THE Prince of Wales met emergency workers who helped in the Glasgow helicopter crash rescue when he visited the site of the tragedy on Friday.
He toured the Clydeside site in bitterly cold weather a week after the Clutha bar was hit by a police helicopter, killing nine people – the three crew members and six people in the pub.
Prince Charles, accompanied by the Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, met members of emergency services before being taken into the heavily-screened crash site. He saw the challenges they had faced in trying to rescue survivors and recover the bodies.
The emergency services’ work, in dangerous conditions to search the pub over several days has been widely praised.
At the end of the visit, the royal met staff at the nearby Holiday Inn hotel, who had given shelter and care to the injured in the aftermath of the crash on 29 November.
The prince also met a number of survivors.
Megan Faulds, eight, who accompanied her grandmother Ann Faulds in the line-up, took the opportunity to hug the prince.
Crash survivor Mrs Faulds was badly bruised down one side and her injuries are still causing her pain.
She said Megan had been overcome by her meeting with Charles, who hugged the little girl.
“I told her not to say anything, but she was just overwhelmed,” said Mrs Faulds. “She wanted to ask how baby George [Charles’ grandson] was, but she was dumbstruck. But he hugged her back.”
Megan said: “I wanted to let go, but then he hugged me again.”
Bar owner Alan Crossan also met the prince and said he appreciated the visit. He added: “It’s a special thing for people who have been affected and for the emergency services, who did an incredible job.”
Another survivor, Calum Grierson, from Hamilton, is still walking with a crutch and has a three-inch scar on his scalp and bruising down one side of his face.
He welcomed the prince’s visit, saying: “For him to come here is excellent. He’s got no axe to grind, no political points to score. I think it’s fantastic to see him.”
His friend John Robson, who suffered severe back injuries in the accident, said it was a time to reflect on the nine people who died.
He said: “Our thoughts are with their families, and we must commend the pilot. From what we’ve been able to glean, he did everything he could to make it safe. God forbid what could have happened if fuel had exploded. None of us would be here. If it caught on fire, we would have been toast, simple as that.”
Both men had been part of a group of eight friends who met to catch up at the Clutha once a month.
Mr Robson recalled the moment the bar was hit: “I remember saying it was a bomb as I was heading for the ground. Everything went ‘woosh’ – it was like the blast of a bomb. We were between the bar and door. The blast blew us across the bar.
“We were trapped for a while. I felt Calum’s head on my lap, and there was something trapping my legs. I couldn’t tell what, but I’ve got a big bruise across my shins where what looks like a beam was on them.
Their friend Alan Torrance, from Hamilton, had been blown out of the bar door by the impact, but went back into the building to rescue people.
Prior to meeting the prince, the survivors laid flowers at a makeshift memorial next to the crash site.
Charles later met about 40 nurses, doctors and other clinical staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary who had helped in the aftermath of the incident.
On hearing about the crash, hundreds of staff volunteered to go in to work to help with the emergency response, the health board said.
Charles was told that ten patients remain in two Glasgow hospitals.
Leaving the hospital after just over half an hour, Charles said to all the staff: “Well done everybody. I’m very proud of you.”
The royal visit came as Police Scotland renewed its appeal for information and witnesses. Police said that from the information they had gathered, more was now known about the route the helicopter had travelled.