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Final salute for officer killed in helicopter tragedy

Hundreds of police officers attended the funeral of a colleague killed when a helicopter crashed through the roof of a Glasgow pub.

RESPECTS: Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, First Minister Alex Salmond and Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson.
RESPECTS: Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, First Minister Alex Salmond and Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson.

Ten uniformed officers lined the entrance to St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow, and saluted as the coffin of Constable Kirsty Nelis, 36, was carried in to the sound of a lone piper.

A police hat sat upon the coffin, which was draped with a white flag bearing the Police Scotland emblem.

Up to 1000 mourners turned out to pay their respects, led by her husband Mark, also a serving officer, and her parents.

Constable Nelis was part of the police's helicopter unit and had received a commendation for her bravery in the past.

The Requiem Mass took place just 200 yards from where the tragedy happened at the Clutha pub on November 29.

The head of Police Scotland, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, gave a Bible reading at the packed service, which many people had to listen to while standing in the doorway.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attended the hour-long service. Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, council leader Gordon Matheson and Glasgow East MP Margaret Curran were present, along with Clutha owner Alan Crossan and manager Saverio Petri, who was using crutches.

Archbishop Of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia said: "We thank God for Kirsty's life and for the blessing she was to her husband, to all who loved her, and to her colleagues."

The Archbishop said in his sermon: "Mark and her family are rightly proud of her, but their hearts nonetheless ache for the loss of her. And that pain will not go away quickly.

"My dear friends, you must comfort one another and allow yourselves to be comforted.

"You will be comforted by your love for Kirsty and her love for you, by your pride in her, by many wonderful memories, and all of these precious and personal things will help to sustain you through this difficult and trying time, and into the future."

The family thanked friends and Constable Nelis's colleagues in a message on the back of the Order Of Service, which said they had received "overwhelming kindness, love and support".

A private service followed at Clydebank Crematorium.

The crash happened when the helicopter carrying Constable Nelis and colleague Tony Collins, 43, was returning from a police operation. They were killed alongside pilot David Traill, 51, and six others inside the pub.

Mr Traill was remembered at a service at Glasgow University on Saturday and mourners attended the funeral of Constable Collins on Arran on Tuesday.

Tributes were also paid to pub customer John McGarrigle, 57, at a Requiem Mass in Castlemilk.

The funerals of two further victims - Mark O'Prey, 44, from East Kilbride, and Gary Arthur, 48, from Paisley - were held on Monday.

The others who died were Robert Jenkins, 61, Colin Gibson, 33, and Samuel McGhee, 56.

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