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Candles, tears and songs as Stockline victims honoured

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

MOURNING: Victims were remembered 10 years after the tragedy.
MOURNING: Victims were remembered 10 years after the tragedy.

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 Hall, accepted a taper, and lit a candle.

Some 300 people had gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of the ICL Stockline tragedy. It was, as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reminded us yesterday, one of the biggest incidents of its kind ever seen in Britain.

Here were families, relatives, and 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 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 and, shortly afterwards, How Can I Keep from Singing.

The Rev Paul McEwan, minister at Queen's Cross Church in 2004, said he remembered from May 2004 "the attitude of the people - the way everybody rallied round to offer whatever help they could in those terrible circumstances".

He said: "For me, 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.

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."

After a moving version of the Beatles' Let It Be the candles were lit, the families each accepting a single taper proffered by Mr Sweeney. Then people came forward from the floor to light tea-lights next to the nine candles, the background music chosen by the families of Margaret Brownlie, Peter Ferguson, Tracey McErlane, Kenneth Murray, Annette Doyle, Timothy Smith, Ann Trench, Thomas McAulay and Stewart McColl.

Afterwards, Liz Cameron said: "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."

Johann Lamont said the legacy was "that we need to do whatever we can to make sure that our workplaces are safe".

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