Clutha Tragedy Victims Remembered

28 November 2014, 06:17 | Updated: 28 November 2014, 06:25

A benefit concert will be held in Glasgow tonight as part of plans to commemorate those who died almost a year ago in the Clutha helicopter crash.

Ten people lost their lives and many more were injured when the police helicopter, a Eurocopter EC135, crashed on to the roof of the Clutha pub on November 29 last year.

It was a night the people of Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, will never forget.

Tonight sees a special event at the city's Barrowlands venue to launch the Clutha Trust, which aims to help disadvantaged young people.

The city is also set to mark one year on from the tragedy and remember those who perished with a service at Glasgow Cathedral tomorrow, the actual anniversary.

The same day, police officers will face firefighters in a commemorative charity ice hockey match at Braehead Arena.

November 29 was, for a time, a Friday night like any other at the Stockwell Street bar.

Ska band Esperanza was playing and more than 100 people had packed into the popular Clydeside bar to see them play.

Then, at about 10.25pm, disaster struck. The Police Scotland helicopter which had been flying overhead dropped "like a stone'' through the single-storey building after both engines failed.

Pilot David Traill and his passengers, police officers Kirsty Nelis and Tony Collins, lost their lives.

Those killed in the pub were John McGarrigle, Mark O'Prey, Gary Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins and Samuel McGhee. Some 32 people were taken initially to hospitals across the city.

Joe Cusker was pulled from the wreckage alive but later died in hospital.

In the weeks that followed, 10 funerals were held. Each attended by large gatherings of mourners, they powerfully demonstrated the far-reaching impact of the crash and the thousands of lives touched by it.

It was, undoubtedly, one of Glasgow's darkest hours. But in the midst of the heartache, the city's renowned spirit came to the fore.

People ran, not away from the situation, but to see if they could try to help others. Crash survivors and others on the scene had formed a human chain to help pass unconscious people out of the pub.

The emergency services were praised for their "exemplary response'' to the major incident.

Pub owner Alan Crossan described the events of last year as "shocking'' and said he still struggles to get his head around the reality of what happened.

He said it was the response of the people of Glasgow to the incident which prompted him to establish a trust for disadvantaged children and young people by enabling them to become involved in the arts, and music in particular.

"The reaction was incredible and that's why we started the Clutha Trust,'' he said.

Describing the Clutha as "a pub of music'', he told how musicians have managed to raise over #500,000 since the crash to help the families touched by the tragedy.

Establishing the trust was a way of channelling that positive energy, he said.

Tonight's concert at the Barrowlands to officially launch the trust will have performances across two stages from acts including Scottish singer-songwriter Sandi Thom.

Free entry is being offered to members of emergency services as a "thank you'', although they are being advised get there early to ensure they can get in.

"The emergency services have been brilliant,'' Mr Crossan said.

He went on: "I'm going to continue with the Clutha Trust and we'll always remember these people (who lost their lives).

"Hopefully we can make the charity as big as we can and that will be remembered as a legacy to the people who died. That may be a memorial in itself.''

The inquiry into the disaster has reportedly been completed, with a draft report of the findings by air accident investigators due to be issued in the new year.

But this weekend's events will focus on those who died and the loved ones they left behind.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said thoughts at this time of year inevitably turn to the crash victims.

He said: "It was shocking for the whole country - and particularly Glasgow.

"I was very proud of the response and the way we went about the recovery.

"There was a lot of bravery, a lot of determination during what was clearly a very upsetting situation.

"I was very proud also with the way we worked so closely with emergency service colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service, it was very humbling to see that.

"Obviously at this time of the year you can't help but think about the people who died in the tragedy.''