THE owner of the Clutha bar, where ten people died after a police helicopter crashed through the roof a year ago this week, has revealed plans to reopen the Glasgow pub with a memorial to those who lost their lives.
Alan Crossan told Scotland on Sunday that the first anniversary of the tragedy next Saturday would be “very difficult for all concerned” but is looking ahead with plans for a memorial stone to occupy the centre of the new Clutha bar when it reopens next year.
The stone will feature two interlinked hands, in tribute to those who rushed to help that fateful night, with the ten fingers representing the ten lives lost.
“You have to be really sensitive when rebuilding somewhere that people have died. It has taken me a long time to get it straight in my head what I want to do with it. It won’t be an exact recreation but I would hope it will have the same sense of character. The Clutha was never about the bar itself but more the people who drank there,” Crossan said.
More than 100 people were inside listening to ska band Esperanza when tragedy struck the Clutha at 10:25pm on 29 November, 2013. As well as the ten people who died, many more sustained terrible injuries.
Pilot David Traill and police constables Tony Collins and Kirsty Nelis were killed when the Eurocopter EC 135 went down, while those killed in the pub were John McGarrigle, Mark O’Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins and Samuel McGhee. Joe Cusker was pulled from the wreckage but later died in hospital.
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To mark the anniversary a service will be held at Glasgow Cathedral on Saturday while numerous other private acts of remembrance will also take place.
The Clutha, in Stockwell Street on the north bank of the River Clyde, is one of Glasgow’s oldest pubs and was a popular venue for live music.
Crossan yesterday denied suggestions that he was planning to sell the Clutha site or build flats where the bar used to stand. “There have been a lot of rumours floating around about my plans, people saying I was looking to build flats but that has never crossed my mind,” he said.
Asked whether he felt the authorities were doing enough in regard to the investigation into the crash, he said: “No, it is one year on and we still don’t have any information on what happened to the helicopter – the families need closure.”
An investigation is still being carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and it is hoped that the full report will be made available early next year.
Crossan has also set up a charity, The Clutha Trust, with the aim of helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds into the music industry. A trust launch night is to be held this Friday at the Barrowlands featuring Sandi Thom, Horse, Carly Conner and Denny Oliver.
A separate fund set up to raise cash for the victims families has so far amassed £500,000 while the company that operated the police helicopter Bond Air Services has started making payments to the victims after accepting strict liability for the losses suffered by those killed or injured in the crash.
Lawyers for the victims have revealed that full compensation payments are close to being reached. But in some of the cases of people who were seriously injured, the payouts could take longer given the extent of their injuries.
More than 30 cases are being handled by Glasgow-based Thompsons Solicitors, while aviation specialists Irwin Mitchell, have 17 clients.
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