IT brought a moment of light relief to an otherwise tense and draining weekend.

Rev Neil Galbraith, Police Scotland chaplain, was commended for his work in the past year and when a senior officer said the bars of chocolates and sweets that he supplies is a boost to morale, it was a welcome diversion.

The comment came at the end of an exceptionally hard 24 hours. Mr Galbraith, a minister at Glasgow’s Cathcart Old Parish Church, had heard about events developing in Glasgow’s West George Street last Friday afternoon and immediately went to the scene. He spent hours at the cordon, standing shoulder to shoulder with officers at the scene. Whether it was to be there to keep the spirits up or make sure the officers had a rest and a bottle of water, Mr Galbraith’s role doesn’t go unnoticed.

He was commended by the force, for a second time, for the work he does for the officers and it came at a time when he was yet again offering his support when one of their own was injured in the line of duty.

Read more: Police officer David Whyte injured in Glasgow Park Inn stabbings released from hospital

Police officer David Whyte, 42, was injured while attending the incident at the Park Inn hotel, along with five other people during a knife attack.

Attacker Badreddin Abaldlla Adam from Sudan, was shot by armed officers. The 28-year-old asylum seeker had been staying at the city centre hotel when the incident happened.


Officers at the scene of the Park Inn stabbings in Glasgow

“I first I heard about the incident was from my son and I immediately went straight there,” said Mr Galbraith. “The first thing I do is go to the site because as chaplain to the force I need to be with the troops. If it had been under normal circumstances I would have been to see David in hospital, but I wouldn’t do that with current Covid-19 restrictions. My job is also to be there for the 140 or so officers at the scene. I am there to encourage them and make sure they realise they are doing an important job. It might be listening to them, encouraging them. Every job is different and at the end of the day when all else fails they can come to the chaplain. I’ve always thought it was important to support the senior officers as well and say you know you are doing a good job.

“Last Friday everyone had a role to play from controlling traffic and crowds, waiting to take people from the hotel, interviewing people and taking eyewitness statements. My job is simple it’s to make sure they are fed and watered and made sure they had somewhere to rest when they were on a break, so we used a nearby church and they can sit and chat. It’s not even usually deep and meaningful. I did speak to a colleague of David’s and I just let the guy talk and that was fine – that was all that was needed. Other conversations can be just about releasing tension talking about other things. These are ordinary lads and lassies doing extraordinary things and we have a very good relationship and my work as chaplain is there for all faiths.”

Read more: Glasgow hotel attack victim released from hospital

Knowing when to be there is something Mr Galbraith, who is also supporting The Herald’s Garden of Remembrance campaign to create a memorial for Scotland’s coronavirus victims, has a great deal of experience of as he has been in the role for 20 years.

“I am there for the officers at the football matches I’ll take biscuits and chocolates," he added. "I’ll jump in my car and speak to them on the streets. Some have had a tough time recently with some officers attending the scene of a fatal house fire in Paisley. So I make sure I go and see them.

“A few years ago when President Trump came to Scotland I was there for the officers on duty – and that was a time when they were in need of supplies – but it was of the confectionary type I was bringing them.”


As Police Scotland chaplain, Rev Neil Galbraith immediately responded

A weekly prayer for Police Scotland officers is offered on social media, and this week's was particularly poignant.

He wrote: "David who along with others showed remarkable courage in the face of extreme violence and threat, who with bravery faced up to the troubled and dangerous violent man before him and to the cost to his own wellbeing, undertook and personified the strength of character of Police Scotland, and that of a remarkable officer in the line, of his duty. Although never seeking the title both David and those other officers, on that day, were indeed heroes in the service of others."

As for his commendation, Mr Galbraith, who also founded aid charity Glasgow the Caring City which provides humanitarian help both at home and abroad and has recently supplied 300,000 bars of soap across Scotland to help communities combat the spread of coronavirus, said: “It was a total surprise. I have no idea who nominated me, but it is very nice. I am just glad I can be there with the officers when they need me.”