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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 06:36 GMT
Tributes to airman killed in Gulf
Programme of the Thanet Music Centre Concert Wind Band
Lt Lawrence played the euphonium for several bands
Friends have paid tribute to a navy airman from Kent who died in the Gulf at the weekend.

Lieutenant Marc Lawrence, who was in his mid-20s and from Westgate, was named on Thursday as one of seven killed when two Sea King helicopters collided in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He was based at the Royal Navy's air station in Culdrose, Cornwall, and was attached to 849 Squadron operating from HMS Ark Royal in the Gulf.

He went to Chatham House Grammar School in Ramsgate and was described by his former headmaster as a "lovely, lovely boy".

Music teacher Keith Woodger, who taught Lt Lawrence for 10 years, said he was a "wonderful lad" who was a talented euphonium player.

A Sea King helicopter
Two Sea Kings collided five miles from the HMS Ark Royal

He had been "absolutely devastated" by the news of his death, which he had feared after seeing footage of a memorial service on the Royal Navy's Ark Royal.

"When I saw the memorial service and saw the empty chair with the euphonium on it, I realised that that must have been Mark's," he said.

"I spoke to his mother yesterday and obviously she's very upset."

Mark played for the Kent County Wind Orchestra, Thanet Youth Concert Band and the Thanet Music Centre, going on tour to Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany.

"He became head boy - he was a leader, he was a wonderful lad," said Mr Woodger.

'Very professional'

"After he left school he did join the navy - that was all he wanted to do ever since he was 14, 15 - he wanted to fly helicopters, that was all he wanted to do."

Mr Woodger said Lt Lawrence's peers hoped to come together to hold a tribute concert for him.

Lt Lawrence was one of six British servicemen killed in the accident along with one American crew member.

It is thought one of the helicopters had been refuelling on board the Ark Royal, while the other was believed to have been returning from a mission.

They collided about five miles from the ship.

On Saturday, the Ark Royal's Captain Alan Massey paid tribute to the crews, calling them "very professional and superb aviators".

Seven dead in helicopter crash
22 Mar 03 |  England

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