Glasgow helicopter crash: funeral held for Pc Kirsty Nelis just minutes' walk from tragedy site

 

Colleagues of a police constable who died when the helicopter she was in crashed through the roof of a pub have joined mourning relatives at her funeral.

Kirsty Nelis, 36, was on board the police helicopter which plunged through the roof of the Clutha pub in Glasgow, killing nine people.

Family, friends and Police Scotland staff gathered for a requiem mass at St Andrew's Cathedral, just 200 metres from the scene of the tragedy.

It has not yet been established what caused the helicopter to fall out of the sky, though investigators say initial evidence so far rules out engine or gearbox failure.

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

Ten uniformed police officers lined the entrance to the cathedral and saluted as the coffin 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.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill attended the service led by the Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia.

Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty and council leader Gordon Matheson were also present.

The crash occurred when Pc Nelis and colleague Pc Tony Collins, 43, were returning from a police operation on Friday November 29.

They were killed alongside pilot David Traill, 51, and six others inside the pub.<br>

A message on the back of the order of service said: "The family wishes to thank all relatives, friends and colleagues for their attendance here today, and for the overwhelming kindness, love and support shown at this sad time."

Clutha owner Alan Crossan and manager Saverio Petri, who was using crutches, attended the mass, where mourners heard Bible readings and sang hymns in memory of Pc Nelis.

The Archbishop said: "We offer our deepest sympathies to Kirsty's husband Mark, to her mum and dad, to her brother, and to all her relatives and friends.

"We know that you have been devastated by Kirsty's tragic, sudden and untimely loss.

"Together with you, putting our hope in Jesus, we pray for her eternal rest.

"And in a special way we offer our prayerful sympathies to her colleagues in the police service."

The cathedral, which holds around 1,000 people, appeared to be full and many mourners listened while standing in the doorway.

The Archbishop added: "Along with Kirsty, we pray for the other eight people who died in the tragedy, the injured, especially those who are still recovering, the bereaved, and all those who have been affected by this sad event. And we pray too for Police Scotland and for the city of Glasgow.

"In this funeral mass, 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.

"We pray that God will show her his abundant mercy and admit her to the joys of heaven."

During his sermon, he said: "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."

Sir Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, read from the Bible during the hour-long mass.

Afterwards, mourners stood in silence outside the cathedral as the coffin was placed in the hearse.

Officers from each division across Scotland attended the memorial, Police Scotland said.

A private service will be held later at Clydebank Crematorium.

PA

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