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Hundreds attend funerals of two Clutha tragedy victims

POLICE officers formed a guard of honour as one of the victims of the Clutha helicopter tragedy was laid to rest, while hundreds of mourners also attended the funeral of one of the customers killed inside the pub.

Hundreds of people attended the funerals of PC Tony Collins in Arran and John McGarrigle in Castlemilk, Glasgow.
Hundreds of people attended the funerals of PC Tony Collins in Arran and John McGarrigle in Castlemilk, Glasgow.

Around 200 officers, including Police Scotland's Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, were among more than 500 mourners at a memorial on the Isle of Arran for Constable Tony Collins, who was killed when the aircraft crashed through the roof of a pub.

The 43-year-old father-of-three was a member of the force's helicopter unit and was returning from an operation when the Eurocopter EC135 crashed through the roof of the Clutha pub on November 29, killing eight others.

John McGarrigle, 57, who had been on a night out at the bar, was remembered at a service in Glasgow yesterday. His family issued a statement in which they described him as "a larger than life character who never had an easy life".

PC Collins was buried at Lamlash Cemetery on Arran, where the Rev Angus Adamson described him as "good fun, with a great sense of humour".

Around 500 mourners were led by his wife Lucy, sons Ryan, 19, Innes, 12 and six-year-old Gregor, and his mother and father Geoff and Margaret.

Officers formed a guard of honour as PC Collins's casket was taken to the graveside. The chief officer of Scottish Fire and Rescue, Alasdair Hay, was also at the service, as were Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson.

Rev Adamson said: "After a terrible tragedy there can be few more desolate places to be than a graveside on a bleak winter day."

Born in Plymouth in October 1970, PC Collins lived in Malpas, south Wales, and Limekilns in Fife before moving to Arran with his parents as a teenager. He was turned down for the police at 17 due to his asthma but was accepted at 25 and went on to receive two bravery awards.

Rev Adamson said: "All we have for now are the tender, dear and precious memories of Tony as his life touched and enriched ours, but those precious memories are what keep the love alive and vibrant."

The funeral of PC Collins's colleague Constable Kirsty Nelis, 36, will be held at St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow today. Three of the victims had been laid to rest before yesterday's services.

The funeral of pub customer Mr McGarrigle was held at St Bartholomew's RC Church in Castlemilk. Hundreds of mourners attended a mass which was followed by a service at Linn Crematorium.

A lone piper played Flower Of Scotland as his coffin, bearing white flowers that said "brother", was driven from the church.

Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty was among those who attended to pay their respects.

Mr McGarrigle was a regular at the Clutha and a member of a writers' group at the neighbouring Scotia pub. He wrote and contributed to a number of published volumes of poetry about Glasgow and its people.

Parish priest Father David Wallace told mourners: "We meet in sadness, but at the same time we have to allow our hearts to be lifted, to be raised to great heights, because of the kindness of others, because of the care that was shown especially last Friday evening around the Clutha Vaults.

"We really can't be filled with a sense of blankness of hope. It seems a strange thing to say when we come together to celebrate a funeral. But John is sharing the joys of the kingdom of heaven and that is our hope, that is our prayer for him today."

Investigators said they have found no evidence of engine or gear box failure. Their inquiries into the cause of the crash are continuing.

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