Aberdeen Railway Station fell silent this morning to honour the three people who lost their lives in the Stonehaven train crash.
A minute’s silence was observed across all stations in Scotland at 9.43am – the time the incident was reported on Wednesday last week – to mark the passing of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie, and Christopher Stuchbury.
Representatives from the emergency services, railway organisations and local and national politics gathered in the Aberdeen station building – with navy blue ScotRail uniforms visible all around, as workers came to mourn their colleagues.
The families and loved ones of the three men were also present, watching as figures including Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson, Aberdeen Lord Provost Barney Crockett and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie laid wreaths below the station sign.
They then proceeded to lay their own bouquets among the vast display of flowers.
Also looking on was Nicola Whyte, the hero who walked three miles from the derailed train while injured to raise the alarm, with her arm in a sling and her foot in a walker boot.
Dereck Grant, the railway chaplain for the north of Scotland, spoke as the ceremony took place, leading a prayer for those who lost their lives or were injured, and everyone else affected by the tragedy.
The laying of tributes finished around five minutes before the scheduled time of 9.43am – exactly a week after the incident was reported on August 12 – leading to an extended solemn silence in the station.
Andrew Bowie MP, who represents the area where the crash occurred, said afterwards: “It’s an incredibly emotional day.
“I think everybody that was present at the time, last Wednesday and Thursday, and saw the crash with their own eyes was under no illusions about how horrific it was, and to be here today with the family members meant quite a lot.
“The message from all of us here, representing the Scottish Parliament and the UK Parliament, the British Transport Police and ScotRail, is very much that we will always stand by the families who were affected, and we will always remember the three individuals who tragically lost their lives and, of course, all the other people who were affected by the tragic circumstances last Wednesday.”
He added: “The community in this part of the world prides itself on its community spirit, and its ability to come together in times of adversity, and that’s very much been in evidence over the last week or so, with members of the community coming together to support those who were affected.
“All of us are looking to the future so we can build on this, take the positive energy that’s been generated through the community spirit and build a legacy we can be proud of on top of the memories of the three individuals who lost their lives.”
Provost Howatson said: “It was an honour to attend today’s poignant ceremony to pay tribute to the three men who died so tragically last week.
“As a nation we stood shoulder to shoulder to pay our respects and pass our condolences to the families and friends of driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury.”
On behalf of Aberdeenshire Council, Provost Howatson went on to thank members of the Rapid Response Team and the wider community for their compassionate support of emergency responders at the scene.
He said: “Demonstrating their core values of care and compassion, these volunteers from the Rapid Response Team were quickly on the scene and have continued to play a vital role in supporting our emergency crews.
“Not only did they serve up essential hot food and refreshments throughout the emergency operation, they also provided words of comfort and support to those who were dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the crash.
“These dedicated volunteers have also remained on site over the weekend to support the various services who continue to inspect the scene, and I know I speak for all those who were kept nourished over these past few days, that this support has been gratefully received.
“Of course, our own communities have also rallied at this painful time. We have heard heart-warming stories of local businesses donating food and preparing meals, while local sports and community groups were on hand to help serve those at the site.
“This response at such a tragic time demonstrates a very real community spirit for which I thank you all personally and for which you must all be applauded.”
The silence was also observed at a number of other stations around Scotland and Britain, including Stonehaven and Edinburgh Waverley, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was in attendance.
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “Today is a very sombre day for Scotland’s Railway.
“We will mourn the passing of Brett, Donald, Christopher, and the tragic events of last week for a long time to come.
“Our hearts remain broken, but together with our railway family, the local community, and people across the country, we will support their family, friends, and one another through this terrible time.”