“WHEN you have people coming up to you all the time just giving you their support it does make an enormous difference.” – These are the words of the family of 24-year-old Matt Jones who was killed in the Shoreham air disaster, who have praised the community for its support following his tragic death.
Matt was on his way back from work with friend Daniele Polito, when their car was struck by a vintage plane during an air display gone horribly wrong, on the A27 at Shoreham.
His dad Steve, 61, mum, Hazel, 59, and sister Becky, 26, have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support shown to them from all areas of the community since the tragedy.
Speaking from their family home in Littlehampton, they said: “You kind of expect support from your friends and family, but it’s the fact it went above and beyond all that. Without the support it would have been totally different.
“Until you’re in this situation you don’t really get it. When you have people coming up to you all the time just giving you their support it does make an enormous difference. No-one knows what to do or say, but the fact they are all there has really helped us an enormous amount.”
Hundreds of condolence messages have been posted online and the family has received more than 100 cards and bouquets.
A balloon release in Matt’s memory, organised by his friends, took place at Littlehampton Pier a week after his death. The event drew a crowd of hundreds and Matt’s family watched on from the West Beach as the balloons floated into the sky.
“The balloon release was just phenomenal,” they said. “It was humbling. We were told there were going to be lots of people. We stood on the West Beach, but to view it and to see the love on the other side was just amazing. It was emotional and overwhelming.”
Some of Matt’s friends who could not make it on the day filmed themselves releasing balloons into the sky from as far afield as Canada and the Czech Republic, and posted them onto Facebook.
The family said: “We knew Matt was popular. He was larger than life, he lived life to the full and he lived life on the edge; that was his philosophy. We have learned he made a difference to a lot of other people with his love and support. We had people say Matt was always there. He was a good lad helping other people. Down the gym as well he would help people out. When they had newbies or people with mental issues Matt was always there to offer his services.”
An aspiring personal trainer, Matt only needed to hand in his coursework to complete his studies and become fully qualified. His family said he planned to travel to Australia to work once he had qualified. He had previously spent close to a year down under and is a qualified scuba diver. Earlier this year, he also spent a couple of months in India, before returning home to earn more money for his next trip away.
“If he made his mind up to do something nothing could get in his way,” said his family. ”He was very determined.”
“We are not arrogant enough to think it’s all about our son. It’s the other ten people who’ve lost their lives as well. We are thinking about the other families involved.
“The people who attended (the crash scene), our hearts go out to them. It must’ve been awful. We know it’s affected some of them deeply.
“All the tributes at the bridge of flowers are absolutely amazing. The police force have been fantastic. They have been our rocks. We are in daily contact with the detective inspectors, who have been fantastic.”
Matt’s funeral will take place at a later date and the family has said it will notify people in due course.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.littlehamptongazette.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LittlehamptonGazette
3) Follow us on Twitter @LhamptonGazette
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Littlehampton Gazette - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.