The inspirational locals who banded together in the wake of the Stonehaven rail disaster have been hailed as heroes as details of their efforts emerged yesterday.
In the immediate aftermath of the derailment, which left three people dead and six injured, credit was paid to the emergency services and the railway workers who helped those affected.
But now a light has been shone on the rural residents who went out their way to help in smaller, but invaluable, ways.
Among them were worried locals who lined country roads to point the blue light crews in the right direction, farmers who cleared paths to ensure they could access the scene of the catastrophe and a man who spent five hours directing traffic to the right place.
They were recognised as stations across the country prepare to fell silent for a minute at 9.43am today to remember train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury.
Residents who live near the crash site at Carmont, about four miles south of Stonehaven, were crucial in supporting the emergency services as first responders raced down rural roads to reach the stretch of railway.
Provost of Aberdeenshire Bill Howatson said the response in Carmont and the wider Stonehaven area had been “heart-warming” as he addressed those who lent a hand.
He said: “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.”
Divisional commander chief superintendent George Macdonald thanked locals for assisting the police. He added: “The help and support received from the local and business communities has been outstanding, as it always is when faced with difficult circumstances. Their support has been gratefully received by every responder involved.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) has also commended the “farming family” that stepped up to the plate to assist in the wake of the crash.
Chris Taylor of Annamuick Farm was among the first on the scene and has been providing his field, near to the line, as a base for investigators. Farmers even worked together to clear paths so that emergency services could better access the spot. North-east regional manager for the NFU, Lorna Paterson, said: “Members of the farming community feel a sense of community and always do what they can.
“Farmers are humble by nature – but they can be heroes. They’ve shown this in the past with their help with flooding, storms and snow. They often have the equipment needed that can help.
Police remain at the entrance to the crash site – where investigators are walking the lines to piece together the moments leading up to the derailment. The nearby Carmont signal box has been adorned with tributes to the victims and it is expected that a large group will gather there today for the minute’s silence.