Blaze brought out best of city... as will happier times

SADLY our Dear Green Place found itself once more at the centre of tragedy on Friday as TV footage of the world renowned Glasgow School of Art buildings were beamed all over the UK in what looked like a blazing inferno.

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Scenes of thick black smoke bellowing out of the shattered windows while crowds gathered in disbelief dominated all of the 24-hour news channels, not to mention various social media sites for most of the day.

There was a particularly heart-wrenching shot of famous graduate Muriel Gray, who is now the art school's chairwoman, in tears and almost speechless when journalists tried to talk with her as she stood outside on the street, watching in despair while the fierce flames ripped through the Mackintosh Building.

Many famous faces have studied at the art school over the years including actors Robbie Coltrane and Peter Capaldi and artist Peter Howson.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh building is recognised as being one of the greatest examples of his work and even Brad Pitt asked for a tour of the building when he visited Glasgow in the 1990s, which it's said led him to design a furniture range inspired by what he saw.

When the first post popped up on my Facebook timeline on Friday afternoon detailing what had happened my heart sank and I immediately picked up the phone to my youngest sister Kerry, who is currently a third-year student at the GSA to make sure she was safe and well.

When I finally did manage to get a hold of her she was devastated beyond belief, especially for her friends in fourth year who had lost their entire year's work in the blaze. Thankfully none had been injured that she knew of.

My next thought turned to the fire services, especially since my brother-in-law is a firefighter, who once again did an incredible job on the scene. Thanks to quick thinking and flawless actions they succeeded in protecting the majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of firefighters up the west end of the main staircase to contain the fire, saving 70% of the buildings contents.

I am always in awe of the men and women working in our emer-gency services. You only have to look at the tragedy at The Clutha Bar last year to see their heroics and selflessness know no bounds, and that was repeated again at the art school on Friday.

I have to mention the "Thank you" sign left around the neck of the city's statue built in homage to the fire brigade outside The Grand Central Hotel. I thought that was such a lovely gesture and even brought a wee tear to my eye.

So now in the days and months that follow begins a healing process for all those connected to the GSA.

I read yesterday that the school has announced it will create a bursary scheme for final-year students whose work was destroyed and that the Scottish Government has also announced it will match up to £5million of the funding raised by GSA for the restoration project, as well as assisting with the bursary scheme.

As for Glasgow and its people we have once again shown everyone that no matter what the circumstances, good or bad, when it matters we pull together to support one another.

With the Commonwealth Games now only weeks away it will be our turn again to show off our wonderful city to the world, only this time for a much happier and joyous reason.

CAHONAS Scotland is Scotland's male cancer awareness charity committed to raising awareness of all male cancers (testicular cancer, prostate cancer and male breast cancer).

They are having a charity ball to raise some much-needed funds this Saturday evening in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow.

It's a Strictly Come Dancing evening with a twist as it's same-sex couples who will be competing and your host for the evening is none other than one of my dearest friends and writer of my one woman show Mr Bruce Devlin.

There is also musical entertainment from star of BBC's The Voice Barbara Bryceland and Glasgow's favourite duo Robert and May Miller, so if you haven't got your ticket yet and are looking for a fantastic night out while helping a great cause, log on to www.cahonas scotland. com for details.

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