PEOPLE'S FAREWELL; On the streets of his beloved city, respect and an ocean of tears.



THOUSANDS of ordinary men, women and children took to the streets yesterday to say a people's farewell to their First Minister.

There were spontaneous outbreaks of respectful applause as Donald Dewar's funeral cortege wound its way through Glasgow, the home city he loved so much.

The mourners came from all parts of the city and beyond, all walks of life and all ages.

They were united in one simple goal -- to pay their respects to the city's famous son.

The city centre came to a standstill as 1400 people took to George Square and the surrounding streets.

Many wrote heartfelt tributes in the two books of condolence inside the City Chambers. Scores more lined North Hanover Street, which leads into the square, to catch the first glimpse of the hearse on its way to the First Minister's final destination.

Shoppers stopped in their tracks and customers in a nearby pub filed out onto the steps to watch.

In St Vincent Street, workers who had left shops and offices formed lines along the pavement.

Sheena Curry, 40, of Troon, Ayrshire, listened to the poignant service outside Glasgow Cathedral before making her way to join the throng in George Square.

She said: "I felt I had to do something when the procession came past so I clapped. It's not the Glasgow way to be over-dramatic. But I think the applause showed just how highly he was regarded."

English teacher Carol Wark, 52, of Largs, Ayrshire, had signed a book of condolence before taking her place in front of the Cenotaph, where others waited and watched.

She said: "I felt Glasgow was the place to be today to pay my respects to a great man. I wrote in the book, 'Flower of Scotland -When will we see your likes again?' I found it very emotional."

Retired machine operator Thomas Fleming, 61, of Shawlands, Glasgow, said: "Mr Dewar should have retired after his first operation. But he was a man for Scotland who fought all his days for Scotland."

The cortege continued through Charing Cross up Woodlands Road to Glasgow University, where staff and students paid their last respects. Dewar became a student at the university in 1955 and became president of Glasgow University Union.

Overlooking the road, along which the vehicles passed, was the debating chamber where Dewar honed his speaking skills.

In eerie silence on the campus, the Bedellus or mace-bearer, Joseph McIlroy, stood to attention as the funeral cortege passed.

Restaurateur Zafar Mohammed, who lives near the university, brought his young family to see the cortege pass.

Mr Mohammed: "I knew Mr Dewar as he often came into my restaurant. He was always very pleasant and a very popular man. My family felt it only right that we should pay our respects."

The cortege continued from the university to Byres Road, passing the Botanic Gardens where Dewar liked to take walks, then on to Great Western Road, where mourners again lined the streets.

Hazel McDonald, 43, said: "I was here to say farewell and that's what mattered. I have suffered from two chronic illnesses and Donald helped me with my battle with the DSS and I'll never forget him for that."

The cortege, accompanied by police outriders, then headed towards Anniesland Cross and Knightswood. At Knightswood Cross, in the heart of Dewar's constituency, more than 300 people applauded gently.

In the nearby community centre, where Dewar regularly held surgeries, more than 100 people gathered to watch the funeral on video link. People had begun arriving shortly after noon, and took the chance to share their memories.

Sarah Gault, 70, recalled the days when she worked in the centre's tea-room and Dewar would drop in after meeting constituents at his surgery.

She said: "He was a good man, and a very nice one too. He didn't have any airs and graces. He would just pop in for a blether and a packet of crisps. He was just Donald, never Mr Dewar. I'll miss him."

As the service went on, the gathering in the community centre sang hymns along with the cathedral congregation.

When the final scenes of Dewar's coffin being carried from the cathedral were broadcast, they once more took to their feet.

Some finally breaking down in tears, they whispered along with the lament of A Man's a Man for A' That.

At 4pm, the cortege arrived at Clydebank Crematorium, on the outskirts of the city.

A small crowd lining the final stages of the route to the crematorium watched in silence as the procession passed by.

At the crematorium, a small private family service was held.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | For webmasters