Congresbury 50th Anniversary, 10th April 2023

On the 10th April 1973 twenty villagers set off from Bristol’s Lulsgate airport on an exciting trip to Basel in Switzerland. In heavy snow, the Vickers Vanguard aircraft, operated by Invicta International Airlines, hit the hillside 300 metres south of the Herrenmatt hamlet, Hochwald, Switzerland. Of the 145 people on board only 37 survived. All 20 passengers from Congresbury lost their lives including members of local families – Gill, Batt, Weaver, Rawlings, Price, Reakes, Roynon, Davis, Searle, Clark, Durman and Attwell. The ages of the victims ranged from the youngest, Hazel Gill aged 9 to Rose Clark aged 74. 13 of the victims were wives of local men which left many families without their mothers. It is hard to imagine the effect it had on this small village.

On the 40th anniversary, a small memorial plaque and three wooden seats were placed in the churchyard at St Andrew’s church where family and friends were laid to rest. Ten years on, only one of the benches is usable.

On the 50th anniversary of the disaster, the families set out to replace the plaque with a new larger one that included the names of their loved ones and create a rose garden as a living lasting tribute to them.

The development and planting of the garden

Stone memorial with all the names listed
Engraving on 3 new benches
New information sign with links to website

There was a service on the anniversary, 10th April at 11:00 am at St Andrew’s Church Congresbury.  This included the dedication of the memorial garden and a chance to meet up at the Memorial Hall.

The garden was dedicated on the 50th anniversary of the crash following a service of remembrance at St Andrew’s Church.

Service of dedication.
Flowers for the families and finished garden.
Members of the Gill family.

The service of dedication was part of the 50th Anniversary service at St Andrew’s Church. As part of the service candles were lit as the names of the victims read out. Then every person to came to the service also lit a candle.

Order of service and flowers given to the families.
The candles lit by the families and friends.

We have been very pleased to receive a kind donation of Spring bulbs from Fentongollan Farm, Cornwall in memory of Linda Trebilcock nee Gill. Linda worked for Fentongollan for many years after she moved to Cornwall.

The disaster had a lasting impact on Linda, she travelled to Switzerland in the days after the disaster with her Uncle, Don Wood to identify her mother and sister, aunt, uncle, and cousin John.

We will post more photos when they are in flower.

Bulbs from Fentongollan Farm ready for planting
Jacki Sutton nee Gill and Rose Pitts nee Gill planting the bulbs

One year on and the garden has grown well thanks to the work of the local church and the families. On the 51st anniversary flowers were laid and the church was lit up in the evening of the 10th, a lovely act of remembrance.

View the garden in 360


The Congresbury Swiss Air Disaster is located in the St Andrew’s Church Yard which is located just off the A370. The access lane is just next to the old school. Parking is available at the top of the lane.


St Andrew’s Church Yard, Station Rd, Congresbury BS49 5DX

What 3 Words: ///partly.mermaids.learning


The memorial garden has been made possible by the generous support of local people and businesses who made substantial gifts to the building of the garden as well as providing materials.

Individual Donations

  • Darren Harding
  • Elizabeth Selwyn
  • Felicity Mudge
  • Rachel Sutton
  • Debbie Stevens-Gill
  • Sarah Selwyn
  • Mandy Gill
  • Susanna Wood
  • Anne Wynne
  • Alison Burlton
  • Patricia Bridge
  • Christopher Ashby
  • Alex Selwyn
  • Lucy Price
  • Jemima Wood
  • Helen Sparey
  • David Ayers
  • Jane Wood
  • E weaver
  • Elsa Evans nee Gill
  • Nicki Cubbin
  • Chris Brean
  • Caroline Durrant
  • Rob and Angela Lacy
  • Ginny Sutton
  • Jennifer Fowler
  • Bev Kearle
  • Michael Bell
  • Caroline Mydlowski
  • Nick & Catherine Wood
  • Terry George
  • Shelley Pitts
  • Jodie Evans
  • Alison Wood
  • Gill Watts
  • Charles Sutton
  • Irene Stubbs
  • Honey Kemp
  • Jacqueline Jenkins
  • Fiona Hiscox
  • Richard Mudge
  • Nicola Sandy
  • C stephens
  • Jacki Sutton nee Gill
  • Darren Sims & Family
  • Jamie Sparey
  • Shaun Brean
  • Shirley Barton
  • Christine Phelps
  • Helen Burrell
  • Simon Pitts
  • Charles Sutton
  • Jon Watts
  • Susan Barker
  • Julie Greer
  • Angela West
  • Malcolm Brean
  • Louise Jefferies
  • Richard Earle
  • Gail Symes
  • Nicki Holmyard
  • Sheila Naish
  • Adam Sutton
  • Mark Sutton
  • V Caisson
  • Monica Buxton
  • Joan Bell
  • Rosemarie Pitts nee Gill
  • Paul Brean
  • Geoff Phippen
  • Madelein Cornellissen-Collins

Businesses that have helped and made donations

  • Bristol Airport
  • Pullin’s Bakery
  • Holders of Congresbury Ltd
  • Congresbury Community Cafe
  • Lye Cross Farm
  • Love Congresbury
  • Bell & Stenton Ltd
  • Helen Ashby – Mendip Wreath Makers
  • Creation Design Partnership
  • Penfold Plastics Ltd
  • Smart Systems Ltd
  • Cadbury Garden Centre
  • Tincknell Country Store
  • Garden Park Hewish
  • Darren Gardiner
  • Fentongollan Farm – Cornwall
  • All Signs & Design Ltd
  • Hodders Butchers
  • Standen’s Plumbing Co Ltd
  • Somerset Memorials
  • Nailsea Patio Supplies
  • Congars Coffee Shop
  • Middlecombe Nursery