UNDER a clear and still blue sky, the people of Glasgow came together to mourn yesterday, with a special service at the city’s cathedral to remember the victims and survivors of the Clutha pub helicopter crash.
Children lit eight candles, one for each of the dead, as the Reverend Dr Laurence Whitley told the congregation – which included deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and police and ambulance personnel who worked to pull survivors from the crash site – that the city must stand together during this period of tragedy.
‘At such times it is difficult to find hope, but hope we must, so nothing denies the triumph of the human spirit,’ he said. ‘When we do what is good and true and right, God is strengthened – he is able to bring his goodness to bear. We stand defiant, and in our great and vibrant and irrepressible city we stand hand-in-hand to go forward into the light.’
Pat O’Mara, head of control at the Scottish Ambulance Service, who led the team of paramedics on the night of the crash, said later that he had worked with helicopter pilot David Traill, one of the people who died.
‘It was that added awfulness that it was people that we knew,’ he said. ‘The police helicopter and the air ambulance work from the same base, so the staff knew the pilot. I had flown with the pilot, I knew the chap, so it makes it a bit more difficult.’
Linda Bowden, a regular at the Clutha bar, broke down in tears after the service. ‘I’ve been to the Clutha many times and I can just imagine the atmosphere and I just know how good a pub it is and the people that go there,’ she said. ‘Everybody enjoying themselves and then it turns into complete terror.’
At Glasgow’s City Chambers, a short walk from the crash site, a book of condolence was opened so citizens could pay respects.
One of the first in the queue was Veronica Earll, from the Robroyston area of the city, who had come along with her son.
‘I just felt I had to come here today,’ she said. ‘It’s just terribly sad and I just wished I could do something to help. There’s a real sense of community here and that will help, but I just feel so awful for all those people, just out for a night out, losing their lives.’
Stephen Girvan said: ‘I used to go in there all the time with my wee dog. I was actually thinking of going in on Friday night because I hadn’t been in for a wee while and they’re such friendly people, but I changed my mind and went home. It’s terrible. It’s been a tough couple of days.’
The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Sadie Docherty, said: ‘Glasgow will continue to cope, but there is great sadness in the city as well. We need to take care of everyone who was involved in this.’
Sturgeon thanks medical staff as she visits recovering victims
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited two of the Clutha survivors in hospital yesterday and heard from them that they felt “lucky to be alive”.
After a visit to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Ms Surgeon said: “I visited Glasgow Royal Infirmary today to say thank you to the staff who have been dealing with this incident since Friday night – on behalf of the Scottish Government but also, it’s fair to say, on behalf of the people of Glasgow and indeed, all of the people of Scotland.
“I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some staff, in A&E and in the wards, who have been dealing with the injured. The effort of the staff in this hospital and others around Glasgow is absolutely phenomenal.
“I’ve spoken to people who came in on Friday night even although they were not rostered to work. That really typifies the response people have given to this appalling tragedy.
“I’ve also had the opportunity to speak to two of the injured individuals, both of whom are doing OK but are clearly upset and traumatised. It brings home just how small, in some ways, the city of Glasgow is, in that one is actually somebody I know. I didn’t know that when I went into the hospital.
“I think it’s fair to say both of the patients I spoke to were being incredibly brave and stoic. But, as you would imagine and expect, they are shocked and upset, and they are suffering from physical injuries. Both expressed concerns for others and described themselves as being lucky to be alive.
“This is still very raw for people in Glasgow. That rawness will subside, but there are going to be a lot of people who have scars going forward.”