Stockline disaster 10th anniversary: Tearful tribute to nine victims

ONE by one, after a moment's silent reflection, the nine candles were lit.

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  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
    The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service
  • The Stockline victims were remembered at an emotional service

Nine candles. One for each of the nine lives lost, 10 years ago to the day.

One by one, the bereaved families came forward to the stage at Maryhill's Community Central Halls, accepted a taper, and lit one of the candles.

Here and there, a tear was dabbed away from the corner of an eye.

This was the 10th anniversary of the ICL Stockline tragedy of May 11, 2004.

It was, as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said later, one of the biggest incidents of its kind ever seen in Britain. As someone else from the fire service once said, it was Glasgow's 9/11.

Yesterday, some 300 people crowded into the hall, on Maryhill Road, to mark the event. There were families and relatives, children and grannies.

There were many representatives of the emergency services, including people from Trossachs Search and Rescue, accompanied by a couple of their dogs.

Politicians were present, too: Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, Labour leader Johann Lamont, Glasgow council leader Gordon Matheson, Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, and former Lord Provost Liz Cameron, MSPs such as Sandra White and Patricia Ferguson, and MP Ann McKechin.

"We're gathered here today to commemorate and celebrate the lives of the nine people who died in the ICL Stockline explosion on the 11th of May, 2004," said Gary Gentles, of Community Central Hall.

"We also recognise the trauma inflicted on those who survived the tragedy and those whose lives are marked by it, day in, day out."

Cathy Peattie, a renowned singer, sang the hymn Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace. Later, she sang How Can I Keep From Singing.

Rev Paul McEwan, the community minister at Queen's Cross in Maryhill at the time of the disaster and now based in Aberdeenshire, said what he remembered from May 2004 was the "spirit and the attitude of the people - the way everybody rallied round to offer whatever help they could in those terrible circumstances.

"For me," he added, "that has always been the silver lining in this cloud - that remarkable outpouring of the human spirit that we saw over those four days ... and in the 10 years since then."

Retired Firemaster Brian Sweeney spoke vividly of the "unprecedented," four-day-long rescue operation, carried out in "uncharacteristic hot Glasgow sunshine".

He remembered "as the sun went down, the candle-lit vigils, the notes that were pinned to the fences, the incessant demands of the press and the media, and of course the sun - four long days in the hot sun".

Mr Sweeney made people smile by recalling one rescue dog, which was in training at the time. Set off its leash by his handler, and released onto the pile of rubble at the factory, "He immediately bolted aff, doon Maryhill Road ... I think he was chasing a car."

After a moving version of the Beatles' Let It Be, led by Peattie, the candles were lit, the families each accepting a single taper from Mr Sweeney.

Then people came forward from the floor to light tea lights next to the nine candles: music played, specially chosen by the families. including songs by Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Presley.

Afterwards, Ms Cameron said: "The service was beautiful. The best thing about it was that it was what the families wanted."

She added: "I always now say goodbye properly - just if it's 'Bye-bye, see you tonight' - to my nearest and dearest, because the terrible thing about this tragedy was that people went away and never came back. That has happened so often in our lifetimes - we've seen it from this, the Clutha and 9/11. I think we must keep our dear ones close."

Ms Lamont said: "It was a beautiful service - very dignified, very poignant, very emotional."

She added it was a reminder that "people went to their work to do their best for their families, and lost their lives. The legacy of that must be that we need to do whatever we can to make sure our workplaces are safe."

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