EXCLUSIVE: Huge emergency response at Loch Leven was launched to ‘rescue’ heavy metal campers

© Wullie Marr Photography
Ross Anderson, Jude Anderson, 10, Andrew Vassiliadis, 7, Natalia Teo, 10, David Henderson and Pan Filis

A group of friends on a “heavy metal camping trip” found themselves at the centre of a massive rescue operation on an historic Scottish island – following fears they had set off on a sinister suicide pact.

The rock fans – three adults and three young children – sailed out to Lochleven Castle for a couple of nights under the stars in their big tee-pee.

But a passer-by onshore raised the alarm, worried that they had gone off to the island to kill themselves.

© Wullie Marr Photography
Damage to Dave Henderson’s car

A massive emergency response was launched, involving a search and rescue helicopter, several fire crews and boats.

Police officers smashed their way into the group’s car parked at the water’s edge in search of a suicide note.

Once on dry land, the campers – including a university lecturer and school teacher – were quizzed by police, who said they were concerned about a possible kidnapping.

Campers David Henderson, a modern languages teacher from Glasgow; Aberdeen University lecturer Panadiotis Filis and civil engineer Ross Anderson were rescued along with 10-year-old children Natalia Teo, Jude Anderson, seven-year-old Andrew Vassiliadis and their dog called Jazz.

© Wullie Marr Photography
Reed Bower island where the families were camping

Mr Henderson, who is also singer with black metal band Nyctopia, said: “We do a lot of camping in rural parts of Scotland, at ruins and that kind of thing.

“We have a small boat and we thought it would be good to take it out to island and set up camp for the night.

“We’ve got a large tee-pee and we had a campfire going. It was a nice evening and one of the kids had already gone off to sleep.

“Then all of a sudden, it was like something from the X-Files.”

© Supplied
Camping at Loch Leven, before emergency rescue op.

Mr Filis, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said: “It was a lovely evening., the only thing that wasn’t so nice was that someone must have thought we needed rescuing.

“The next thing we knew, there was all these blue flashing lights on the shore. We had no idea what was going on.”

The 37-year-old said: “There must have been about 50 to 70 people there, all coming to rescue us, even though we didn’t need rescuing.

“I think someone was worried that we had left our car parked at edge of the water. They must have thought it was abandoned.

“The police smashed the window to get inside and they told us later they were looking for a suicide note.”

Natalia said: “I was still awake when it happened.

“There were all these searchlights and I could see some boats coming towards us. It was quite frightening, because I thought they were going to arrest someone.”

The children were loaded on to the first of two “rescue” boats and given life jackets.

Mr Henderson said: “They took us back to the car park where we were greeted by about 22 vehicles including loads of fire engines, ambulances and police cars.

“We were led to an ambulance where they put digital thermometers in our ears and asked loads of questions.

“When they realised we were just a bunch of good friends taking our kids on a heavy metal camping trip that was the end of it.”

He said: “They kind of made us feel as if we did something wrong, but we just like to go wild camping, drink beer and listen to heavy metal music.”

Mr Filis said: “The police were all very professional and treated us okay, but we never had one word of apology from them for interrupting our camping trip.”

The group camped on Reed Bower Island, which is just north of Lochleven Castle. The landmark fortress was visited by Justin Beiber last year and is famously where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567.

The ruin is protected as a scheduled monument, in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, while other islands are maintained by Scottish Natural Heritage.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We received a call of concern for three men, three children and a dog on Sunday at around 7pm.

“Enquiries were carried out, along with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and they were all traced safe and well at around midnight’.

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