Friends and family pay tribute to 'loveable giant' at funeral of Clutha crash victim

The family and friends of a "lovable giant" who died when a police helicopter crashed through the roof of a busy pub have gathered to remember him.

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  • Mark O'Prey's funeral. Picture: Jamie Simpson.
    Mark O'Prey's funeral. Picture: Jamie Simpson.
  • Liam O'Prey (second from the right), the son of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, helps to carry his coffin
  • Liam O'Prey (centre), son of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, helps to carry his coffin at his funeral
  • Barbara Todd, the sister of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, touches his coffin after his funeral
  • Liam O'Prey, the son of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, at his funeral
  • Liam O'Prey, the son of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, at his funeral
  • An order of service is held at the funeral of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey
  • The family of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey including his sister Louise
  • Ian O'Prey, the father of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, at his funeral
  • The family of Clutha bar helicopter crash victim Mark O'Prey, including his mother Mona O'Prey

Mark O'Prey was on a night out to watch one of his favourite bands at Glasgow's Clutha bar when the helicopter fell out of the sky.

The 44-year-old was one of nine people who died in the disaster on November 29.

His funeral service is being held in his home town of East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, where hundreds of mourners packed into St Bride's RC Church to pay their respects.

Among them were pupils from the nearby St Andrew's and St Bride's school, which Mr O'Prey's son Liam, 15, attends.

The funeral is the second to take place since the incident and the first for the people who were inside the pub when the crash happened.

Last week, the family of Mr O'Prey described him as a "lovable giant" and they believe he died while trying to help others escape the pub.

His sister Louise said: ''He's a fantastic brother, we loved him so, so much. He's an unbelievable character, one in a million.

''Mark was an adorable, loveable giant. He was always laughing and would do anything for anybody.''

Later today, the funeral will take place for another pub-goer who was killed in the crash. Gary Arthur, 48, will be remembered in Paisley, Renfrewshire.

On Saturday, the first funeral for the nine people who died was held.

Around 700 mourners gathered for the service for helicopter pilot captain David Traill, 51, and prayers were said for all of those who died in the crash.

Police constables Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43, were on board the helicopter and the others who died inside the pub were Robert Jenkins, 61, Colin Gibson, 33, John McGarrigle, 57, and Samuel McGhee, 56.

The requiem mass was led by Father Owen Ness, who welcomed mourners on behalf of Mr O'Prey's family - his father Ian, mother Mona, sisters Louise and Barbara and son Liam.

Fr Ness said: "Mark in his life's journey met many other people. On that journey he impressed people. One of the stories that I have heard stands out because it was told to me by two people.

"In his job as a window cleaner one family told me he used to make circles in the window for the kids to come and look through so that the young children could come and be amazed at the mystery of how the windows were cleaned.

"That is one example of his concern for and interest in other people."

Fr Ness said Mr O'Prey had died in a place where people went to be together and to be happy.

"That was the place where Mark was happy and that was the place where his life ended so unexpectedly," he said.

"This journey that Mark O'Prey had, it ended so unexpectedly," Mr Ness said.

He told the congregation that he had spoken to Mr O'Prey's father, Ian, about his fears and hopes for his son in the hours following the Clutha tragedy.

"Late on Saturday afternoon he told me those hopes were unfulfilled," Mr Ness added.

He summed up the relationship between father and son by recounting a memory of a time when Mr O'Prey had called by unexpectedly to chat with his father.

"He now looks upon that as a gift in his life," he said.

During the Mass, readings were given by Ian O'Prey and sister Barbara, and a special prayer was said for Liam, whose mother Clare Gillies, Mr O'Prey's ex-partner, was also present.

Liam's registration class and teachers from school were in church to support the teenager.

Mr Ness spoke of the whole family's love for Mr O'Prey . He thanked mourners for their attendance, which he said gave the family great comfort.

The congregation sang hymns including I Watch The Sunrise and Lead Kindly Light, and mourners took communion.

Liam was among those who carried his father's coffin out of the church as mourners sang the hymn Walk With Me, Oh My Lord.

Mr O'Prey's sister Barbara said a final farewell, laying her hand on the coffin while it was in the hearse.

The funeral cortege then departed to South Lanarkshire Crematorium for a service of committal, led by a police outrider.

Scores of mourners lined the streets in respectful silence as the cortege drove off.

Mr O'Prey's family thanked everyone for their attendance.

A message on the order of service said: "Mark's mum, dad and all the family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to everyone here today.

"The kindness shown not just by family and friends but from the nation as a whole has been of tremendous support to Mark's family."

After the crematorium service, the family will return to St Bride's Church hall to share happy memories and remember Mr O'Prey.

A gathering will also take place at the Village Inn in East Kilbride to celebrate his life and his love of music.

Just a few miles away, mourners gathered to pay their last respects to Mr Arthur in Paisley.

He was the first of the crash victims to be publicly named in the days following the incident.

The humanist service at Woodside Crematorium was estimated to have been attended by 400 to 500 people, many of whom had to stand outside.

In a statement released ahead of the funeral, Mr Arthur's family said: "We loved him dearly and always will, we will miss him so much.

"We will continue to make him proud. He always tried to do his best for us and to be there for us. He was the best dad and it's devastating that our dad has been taken from us in such a tragic way."

The hearse was followed by family cars and police outriders as it arrived at the crematorium.

Floral wreaths spelling out the words "Uncle" and "Gary" lay by the coffin in the hearse.

The hundreds of mourners mostly arrived in cars for the service, which lasted around 40 minutes.

Mr Arthur's daughter Chloe, who plays football for Celtic, previously took to Twitter to pay tribute to him.

She said: "RIP dad. You'll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud, I love you with all my heart."

Mr Arthur was said to be a regular on the sidelines to watch his daughter play for the Celtic and Scotland women's under-19s football teams and a minute's silence was held before Celtic's match against Hearts last week as a mark of respect to all the victims.

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