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Funerals of Clutha victims held

The youngest and oldest victims of the Clutha helicopter crash have been laid to rest at separate funerals.

Colin Gibson, 33, and Robert Jenkins, 61, were among nine people killed when a police helicopter crashed on to the roof of the Glasgow pub nearly two weeks ago.

Mourners gathered at Neilston Parish Church in East Renfrewshire to remember Mr Gibson, who died as he celebrated a friend's birthday in the bar.

His family bowed their heads silently as they were led into the funeral by the Rev Fiona Maxwell, who conducted the hour-long service.

The church, which holds up to 500 people, was full with people saying a final farewell to Mr Gibson, who lived with his partner David Hay in Ayr.

Finance Secretary John Swinney, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and the city's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty were at the service, along with Clutha owner Alan Crossan and manager Saverio Petri, 48, who was injured in the disaster. Senior police officers were also there.

Mr Hay, 33, read a personal tribute during the service and Mr Gibson's sister Diane Christensen recounted the story of her brother's life. Hymns included How Great Thou Art and Once In Royal David's City.

A collection of photographs of Mr Gibson, including some of his baby pictures, was printed on the order of service.

The Thornliebank Accordion Band played as the congregation spilled out on to the street to watch the hearse pull away.

A large bouquet of white flowers and single red and white roses lay on the coffin, which was lifted into the hearse by undertakers. Mr Gibson's body was then taken to Woodside Crematorium in Paisley.

A message from the family thanked the congregation for attending and said a wake would be held at Neilston Bowling Club.

In a statement released ahead of the funeral, they said: "As Colin's family we would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the emergency services who attended the scene of the tragic accident.

"We also thank the members of the public who instinctively disregarded their own safety to help others.

"We appreciate the painstaking challenge faced by the rescue workers who worked tirelessly in these very difficult and harrowing circumstances. We greatly appreciate the support and guidance provided to us at this distressing time by the police liaison officers.

"Our thoughts are with those other families also affected by this unfortunate event and at this most difficult time we do ask for privacy to come to terms with our loss."

Mourners later gathered at Linn Crematorium in Glasgow for the funeral of Mr Jenkins, who was listening to the band in the Clutha with his partner Mary Kavanagh when the helicopter hit the building.

She escaped the bar unharmed and was restrained from going back in to find Mr Jenkins, known to friends as Rab.

The retired Scottish Gas administration worker had two daughters, Claire, 32, and Elaine, 31, with his wife of more than 30 years, Margaret Jenkins, a school teacher who died in 2006.

He was a keen runner and was passionate about music, literature and film and had appeared as an extra in several shows.

Mr Jenkins' friend Jim Doyle said in an obituary in the Herald newspaper: ''One thing that keeps me going through this whole thing is that I know he died with a pint in his hand and listening to music.

''If he could have selected a way to go, this would have been exactly what he would have chosen.''

In a statement, his family described him as a gentleman and an ''especially kind, warm and funny man'' with many friends.

Mr Jenkins was remembered at a humanist service led by Ken Eadie which celebrated his love of music.

Mourners entered the crematorium to the strains of Wonderful Land by The Shadows and heard tributes from friends Tony Darroch and Davy Welsh. Mr Crossan and Mr Petri also attended.

Ms Kavanagh, who he met about four years ago, read a poem about courage during the service.

Mr Eadie spoke of his family life and long-standing friends Mr Darroch and Mr Welsh shared some of the times they had enjoyed together.

A recording of Auld Lang Syne performed by Mairi Campbell was played at the memorial and mourners left the crematorium building to the sound of the Beatles' Eight Days A Week.

Six funerals have already been held for those who died in the tragedy.

Helicopter pilot David Traill, 51, was remembered at a service at Glasgow University on Saturday and hundreds of police officers attended funerals for Pc Tony Collins, 43, on the Isle of Arran and Pc Kirsty Nelis, 36, in Glasgow this week.

Tributes were paid to pub customer John McGarrigle, 57, at a requiem mass in Castlemilk, while the funerals of Mark O'Prey, 44, from East Kilbride, and Gary Arthur, 48, from Paisley, were held on Monday. The other victim was 56-year-old Samuel McGhee.

It has not yet been established what caused the helicopter to fall from the sky on November 29, although investigators say initial evidence rules out engine or gear box failure.

Bond Air Services announced today that it was suspending flights of the model of helicopter that crashed on the pub after a defect was discovered on a recent flight.


From Belfast Telegraph