Tragedy, shock….and heartwarming courage. Glasgow today.

As I write, thirty two people are in emergency hospital beds across our city. We do not know how many people have died as sniffer dogs, fire and police service personnel carefully comb the rubble of the Clutha Vaults pub, searching for signs of life – or death. Shocked families wait to hear news of their loved ones.

Clutha Vaults helicopter crash

Clutha Vaults helicopter crash

This is a devastating incident which has touched many lives and will continue to do so as the days and weeks unfold.  With profound irony, this is St Andrews Day: a day when we celebrate the richness of what it means to be Scottish.

And yet….

We lay in bed this morning, shocked, having woken up on a lazy Saturday to awful news. And yet….through the jagged tempo of tragedy, we began to hear the strong heartbeat of Glasgow. A heartbeat we have heard before through other tragedies. The strong pulse of ordinary citizens caring for one another, some risking their lives to do so, not knowing whether the pub shattered by a helicopter’s plummet from the night sky was going to explode into fire and flames.

People called the emergency services immediately. Others formed a human chain to escort their fellows blinded by dust, blood and shock to safety. Passers by did not run away: they ran to see what could be done to help. Other folk sat on the street with the injured, tucked their emergency blankets round them, waited till the ambulances came. The rescue operation, well planned, swung fast into action. Gordon Matheson, the City Council leader, was eloquent in his praise of rescue services – and of ordinary citizens.

There is another Glasgow, a generous spirited Glasgow, the one that films sensationalising Glasgow’s at times violent history do not show. I am a Glaswegian by adoption, having lived here for over thirty years, my husband even longer. I too have been on the receiving end of the small and large kindnesses, laughs and warmth which are characteristic of living here. I hope I have returned these too.

Today, in the midst of disruption, pain and tragedy, I feel proud to call myself a citizen.

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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6 responses to “Tragedy, shock….and heartwarming courage. Glasgow today.

  1. I confess I’m relieved to see your post and tweets. While it didn’t seem at all reasonable to me that you would have been at the pub, still… One doesn’t know until there is certain contact.

    It’s a terrible tragedy, but as you say, it’s also a time to honor those who responded with courage and compassion. If such things are going to happen, the least the world-wide media can do – should do! – is point to the response and say, “This is how human beings help one another”.

    • Thank you for your concern, Linda – and as you say: this is not just the best shining through the mutual care of Glaswegian citizens for one another. It is, at best, what humans always do….

  2. I can only concur with you words Anne. It’s a terrible tragedy but the bravery and kindness of those who pulled together to help is uplifting and although it’s early to say I think it sounds like the pilot was also extraordinary as his actions minimised what could have been a much worse incident.

  3. Ghislaine Winning

    Your sentiments shared . I shall never forget the welcome I got in Glasgow when I first came over from France as a student teacher.I always felt included and I am very proud to be a citizen of Glasgow

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