First victim of helicopter crash, named

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first of the eight victims of the helicopter which crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub, has been identified. He was Gary Arthur, aged 48 from the Paisley area. His family has been informed.

Throughout the night, emergency workers will continue to stabilise the site on Glasgow’s riverside, to make it safe for searches for bodies. Police sniffer dogs have already been deployed. Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: ‘We are dealing with a very sensitive and complex operation.’  The remains of the helicopter have to be removed from the building to enable save searches of the remainder of the popular pub.

An estimated 120 people were in the building listening to the band Esperanza.  Police Scotland reported, mid afternoon on Saturday, that eight people were dead including the two police officers and the civilian pilot in the helicopter.  More than 30 people were taken to hospital after the incident late on Friday night and 14 of them were reported to be serious, mostly with head and chest injuries.

People anxious to find missing relatives who were believed to be in the pub that night  are asked to call the Police Scotland Casualty Bureau number – 0800 092 0410.

The Queen and UK Prime Minister David Cameron were among the first to offer their condolences. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and later, his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon have both attended the site of the tragedy.

Prayers will be said in Churches of all denominations on Sunday. Special prayers were said at the nearby St Andrew’s Cathedral in Clyde Street at the Saturday Mass which was led by Archbishop  Tartaglia  who said: ‘I was distressed by the news. My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident.’

Priests from the Cathedral parish have been offering assistance during the search and rescue operations. One of  them, Monsignor Christopher McElroy, said: ‘We shall hold the deceased, the injured and those still engaged in the rescue and recovery at the Clutha in our thoughts and in our prayers.’


Par for a long life

February 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hugh (seated) holds his card from the Queen. Brother Sandy is beside him. They are surrounded by the family including son Hugh (back row third from left) and silver medalist grandson Chris (back row, fourth from right)

Celebrating his 100th birthday, Hugh Baillie considers his secret of long life is: ‘Living a normal life. And not having too much to do with the drink.’  But his younger brother Sandy – a mere 92 –  blew the gaff: ‘Only the good die young!’ he quipped.

Most of Hugh’s family of two children, 4 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren – and brother Sandy –  attended his special birthday party in Sherbrooke Lodge care home in Pollokshields. Hugh and his late wife Peggy were married in September 1939 as war broke out. They lived together in Sherbrooke Lodge in recent years until Peggy passed away 18 months ago.

A railway worker since leaving school at 15, Hugh was in a reserved occupation, critical to the war effort, so not allowed to join the forces.

He spent a good number of years operating the signal box at Central Station, before retiring after 50 years’ service.

A keen golfer – he played off a handicap of 8 – he had at least one game a week at Blairbeth Golf Club until he was 95.  Brother Sandy was head green keeper at Gleneagles and Turnberry when each was a railway hotel.

Born in Govanhill, Hugh has lived all his life in the Shawlands, Pollokshields area. He enjoys being in Sherbrooke.  ‘There’s a couple of nice wee groups (of friends) here,’ he commented.

Sherbrooke operations director Lissa Ameur presented Hugh with a bouquet of flowers. And all the residents joined in the party after Hugh received his birthday card from the Queen on Saturday 16 February 2013.

Until recently he and Sandy and a third brother who lived well into his 90s, would attend model railway exhibitions.

Hugh’s grandson Chris Baillie is a silver medalist having run the 110 metre hurdles  in the last three Commonwealth Games. He’s now in training for Glasgow 2014 Games and hopes to be chosen to run there.

With the life style Hugh is enjoying at Sherbrooke Lodge, there’s a real chance he’ll be at the Games to cheer his grandson on.



Princess Royal opens Riverside Museum

November 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Pupils of St Constantine's, serve on the junior Board of the Museum and have designed one of the interactive games used in the Museum.

The Princess Royal delighted more than 150 special guests at Glasgow’s new £74 million Riverside Museum when she formally opened it today. (Friday 11 November 2011)
Pupils of St Constantine’s Primary School in Govan who are on the Junior Board at the Museum and who had designed one of the interactive games which are proving so popular, had a ringside view as the Royal party left. Said Luis McCann who with Claire Wasige, is current champion at their game: ‘The best thing about today was the Princess.’
That was echoed by Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life, who escorted the Royal visitor through many of the exhibits: ‘In four and a half months we’ve had 945,000 visitors here, which is quite remarkable. Everyone who had played a part in this has looked forward to this day.’
Lord Provost Bob Winter as Lord Lieutenant who stands in for the Queen on occasions in Glasgow added his thanks to everyone ‘behind the scenes,’ in particular. ‘The design, building and operation of the Riverside Museum is wonderful. The project was delivered on time and within budget. The sheer dedication of the entire team is remarkable and everyone should be rightly proud of the treasure trove we possess.’
The Princess Royal, too, was clearly enthusiastic about the Museum. After unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit, she said:’It has been a pleasure to see this place that has had rave reviews. The praise is entirely appropriate.’
On congratulating everyone concerned she added: ‘Long may the visitors continue.’

The Princess Royal also went aboard the Tall Ship Glenlee, one of only five Clyde built sailing ships of that kind afloat in the world.  Moored in front of the Museum, it has recently undergone a £1.5m refurbishment.  Said Dr Christopher Mason, who heads the Trust which runs the Tall Ship:  ‘It is always good to get royal recognition for staff and volunteers – it is a great boost to everyone’s morale.  The Princess took great interest in our work and we hope she will come again.’

The Princess Royal enters the Riverside Museum escorted by Councillor George Redmond, chair of Glasgow Life.

The Grand Central Hotel opens with a flourish

October 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

All departments prepare to welcome guests at the Grand Central Hotel.

All departments prepare to welcome guests at the Grand Central Hotel.

Since opening in 1883, the hotel at Glasgow’s Central Station has had some historic visitors. On Monday 4 October the newly refurbished and renamed Grand Central Hotel officially opened its doors – aiming, once again, to be THE place to be seen in.

The £20 million refurbishment of the iconic building began in 2009 after it was bought by renowned hotel group Principle Hayley. The work done has reinstated some of the building’s original motifs, including an ornate Italian marble floor, intricate cornicing and, in the ballroom, a set of hidden windows. These were uncovered when the ceiling was lifted by three meters, and duly restored

Also unveiled, a new bar, Champagne Central, which overlooks the famous concourse in Glasgow Central station. The first four floors – there are seven in total – currently offer 118 refurbished bedrooms. Although open, construction work is ongoing. By next week, the Grand Central Hotel will boast 168 rooms, a restaurant and a Deli. This will complete Phase 1 of the refurbishment. Phase 2 is due to be finished early next year and will see a range of rooms available on the top three flours.

The re-opening represents a great day for new general manger Laurie Nicol, who left the Hilton group  in January to run the Grand Central.

Laurie told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘The Central Hotel is one of the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow. When I found out it was getting refurbished I decided it would be a great place to work. I am delighted to get the job, it’s been a huge learning curve – I did not know much about the refurbishment process before and it’s certainly been entertaining and exciting.’

She added: ‘I am very proud of what we have achieved. We’ve been able to keep the romance of the hotel alive while bringing it up to date with a stylish,  contemporary, twist.’

Principle Hayley’s team worked closely with Historic Scotland – the building is A- Listed- and interior designers Charles Leon Associates. Charles Leon outlined some of the principles behind the work: ‘We have tried to design a hotel fit for today’s lifestyles while fully respecting the existing form and features and, indeed, revealing and refurbishing others that have been lost over the decades.’

Purchased by Principle Hatley in the  spring of 2009, Grand Central became the 23 hotel in their portfolio. Principle Hayley CEO Tony Troy said: The £20 million refurbishment has been a major project and it’s great to see the transformation nearing completion. The hotel has played a major part in Glasgow’s history and we are looking forward to next the chapter.’

The hotel has seen some famous faces during it’s long history. Her Majesty the Queen has stayed as have Laurel and Hardy, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra. Perhaps the most illustrious guest of all was much-loved former US President John F. Kennedy. Should President Obama plan a stay, you can bet the staff –  165 personnel- would be kept busy polishing the 25 metre chandelier that hangs down the main stairwell.

One of the hotel’s three executive suites has been named after JFK. The other two are called Robert Rowand Anderson- the Scottish architect responsible for the hotel’s 1876 design- and John Logie Baird, who sent the first long distance TV images from the hotel in 1927.

To mark the occasion of the reopening, Principle Hayley had former Miss Scotland, Nieve Jennings, try out the Champagne in the new bar, clad in a stunning red dress that would have had Frank Sinatra and JFK running round the chandelier.

Pope challenges the young faithful

September 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mobile phone and rosary beads at the ready.

Mobile phone and rosary beads at the ready.

Father Edmund with some of his flock from Blessed John Duns Scotus

Father Edmund with some of his flock from Blessed John Duns Scotus

Photographs and text by Stuart Maxwell

The congregation of Blessed John Duns Scotus Church in Gorbals shared their short pilgrimage to Bellahouston Park to celebrate Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday 16 September, with the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW. Here is a view of this historic visit.

The 50-strong congregation met at 12 noon outside Bridge Street underground where Father Edmund, Church Guardian, handed out information packs and the all-important wrist band allowing entry.

Each person has paid £20 for the privilege of taking part. Many in the congregation had been at Bellahouston in 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited.

Retired Labour Councillor, James Mutter, was one of them. He remembered: ‘ It was a great day, with almost 300,000 people crammed in. There’s going to be lot more room this time’. An estimated 100,000 were in Bellahouston Park this time. He added: ‘This brings back memories for I was with my sister the last time and she’s dead now.’

Alighting at Ibrox, the congregation started the two miles walk to the park with a local resident playing the flute to entertain them. Said James: ‘I’ll just about make this but might need a wheelchair back!’

Arriving at Bellahouston, there was a sea of flags blowing in the wind as people jostle to get to their allotted spaces. Blessed John Duns Scotus folk were in zone 26, to the left of the stage. They had plenty to keep them interested as they wait for the Popemobile to arrive from Edinburgh, where the Queen had formally welcomed His Holiness.

Children’s choirs from local schools and singers such as Susan Boyle and Michelle McManus led the praise throughout the day.

Despite a strong police presence, the atmosphere was relaxed and the happy anticipation felt by members of the congregation, seemed to be shared throughout the park.

St Helen’s Primary school chanted to the whole of Bellahouston Park: ‘Welcome to Scotland, Pope Benedict’.

Father Edmund commented: ‘Everyone here is united in their faith, including those of my congregation. Having the Pope visit us, gives us a feeling of great solidarity.’

A sea of yellow umbrellas went up to show where the priests were for those taking Holy Communion.

A large proportion of the people attending the event were young people and the Pope spoke to them directly: ‘You face many temptations – drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol. These things are destructive. The only thing that lasts is the love of Jesus Christ. Search for Him. Know Him. Love Him. He will set you free.’

Added the Pontif: ‘the Church belongs to you.’