Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow helicopter crash: Billy Connolly visits crash scene

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Media captionBilly Connolly: "I spent many a happy hour at the Clutha bar"

Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has made an emotional return to the Glasgow pub where nine people died in a helicopter crash on Friday.

The 71-year-old placed flowers near The Clutha and told reporters: "I played in all of these bars around here.

"The Clutha was a good music pub - they didn't mind banjo players like me. I spent many a happy hour there."

"This is dreadful, but Glasgow has really risen to the occasion. I am very proud to be Glaswegian," he added.

Connolly, who was born and raised in Glasgow, said he was "devastated" to learn of the police helicopter crash on Friday night.

'Driven to do this'

"It was funny sitting in New York watching it on the telly on the news and I can see a picture of the Clutha - it was just extraordinary," he said.

On leaving flowers at the scene, Connolly said: "I felt driven to do this, I have never done this before."

He said that he did not know anyone involved in the tragedy but added: "The Clutha's got a very special place in my heart."

Image caption (Top row left to right) David Traill (pilot), PC Kirsty Nelis, PC Tony Collins; (Middle) Gary Arthur, Samuel McGhee, John McGarrigle; (Bottom) Colin Gibson, Mark O'Prey, Robert Jenkins

Connolly worked as a welder in Glasgow's shipyards before pursuing a career as a folk singer towards the end of the 1960s in the Humbelbums.

During this time, he played in The Clutha and nearby Scotia bar, which were prominent venues on the Glasgow folk scene.

Connolly, who has been affectionately known for decades in Glasgow as "The Big Yin", was given the freedom of the city in 2010.

'Nice outpouring'

Speaking near The Clutha on Tuesday, he said the people of Glasgow had responded "unbelievably" well, adding that "everyone was talking about that, as well as the accident".

He added: "It is extraordinary, I was very, very proud to be a Glaswegian when I saw the degree to which they helped out there."

Connolly went on to say that the tributes were a "nice outpouring" and that "Glasgow does that kind of thing very well".

Image caption Hundreds of floral tributes have been left at The Clutha crash scene

Earlier this year he underwent treatment after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease. He later said he had been given the all-clear from cancer.

Just before walking away from the crash scene, Connolly was asked how he was feeling. He responded by saying: "I'm OK, I'm a survivor."

Five people inside the Clutha pub and three people inside the Police Scotland aircraft died in the crash on Friday.

They were Robert Jenkins, 61; Mark O'Prey, 44; Colin Gibson, 33; John McGarrigle, 57; Samuel McGhee, 56; Gary Arthur, 48; David Traill, 51; and PCs Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43.