Abronhill to celebrate the lives of Cumbernauld’s Jim and Ann tomorrow

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 21:55 on 9 July 2015

Abronhill Parish Church

14-09-2013 - By Scott Campbell (+44) 0774 296 870 - Save Abronhill High School public meeting, at Abronhill Parish Church; 'Welcome to Abronhill Parish Church' sign.
Abronhill Parish Church will host the couple's funeral tomorrow. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.

ABRONHILL will come to a halt tomorrow afternoon as the community prepares to celebrate the lives of Cumbernauld couple James and Ann McQuire, who were tragically killed in the dramatic shootings in Tunisia, last month.

Arrangements for the couple’s funeral were confirmed earlier this week, with an announcement from Abronhill Parish Church that the much loved long-term Abronhill residents will be laid to rest at Uddingston’s Daldowie Crematorium, after a ceremony at Abronhill’s parish church.

66-year-old James and his 63-year old wife Ann.

66-year-old James and his 63-year old wife Ann were said to have been “heavily involved in the life of Abronhill Parish Church” in Cumbernauld, before they were tragically killed in the dramatic events in Tunisia last month.

A total of 38 people were killed by a gunman in the resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse in Tunisia, last month, with news that two of Cumbernauld’s most loved community stalwarts had lost their lives in the attack being confirmed within days of the shootings on June 26th.

It has since been confirmed that Mr McQuire had volunteered with the Boys' Brigade locally, being an officer with the 5th Cumbernauld brigade, after working as a marine engineer. Jim’s wife, Ann, had been a medical receptionist before retiring last year. 

‘Senseless and cowardly terrorist attack’.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has paid tribute to the McQuires, and in signing a specially opened book of condolence at North Lanarkshire Council’s headquarters, Ms Sturgeon said it was time for Scotland to “remember all of the victims of this senseless and cowardly terrorist attack”.

She added that her “thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences are with their families and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

Joining local representatives at council’s Motherwell headquarters, Ms Sturgeon observed a one-minute silence and paid her own tribute to Cumbernauld’s James and Ann McQuire and fellow Lanarkshire couple Billy and Lisa Graham.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signing the council's book of condolence. 

The First Minister said she hoped that the families of those killed could “take some comfort from the fact that right across Scotland people have come together to condemn these mindless acts and pay respects to their loved ones”

Ms Sturgeon added: “We will continue to offer all the support we possibly can to those affected and I hope now that the privacy of the families will be respected in order that they can mourn their loss in peace.”

North Lanarkshire Provost Jim Robertson confirmed that the council had opened Books of Condolence in memory of victims of the Tunisian attack throughout North Lanarkshire, as a mark of respect.

He confirmed that books had been placed at the council’s office in Bron Way, Cumbernauld and at North Lanarkshire Council’s headquarters in Windmillhill Street, Motherwell to allow members of the public to write tributes.

Provost Jim Robertson said: "Flags on council buildings have flown at half-mast as a mark of respect since the scale of the tragedy and the impact on the area became clear.

"Mr and Mrs McQuire made a huge contribution to their community through their work with young people and I feel it only right residents have the opportunity to record their tributes.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and all those touched by this terrible event."

The opening of the books of condolence came ahead of a special prayer gathering at Abronhill Parish Church, on July 3rd. 

‘Overwhelmed by expressions of support’.

Around 400 local residents turned out to the church’s prayer gathering, which allowed people to grieve and mark the lives of Jim and Ann McQuire in a private setting, with a book of condolence made available for signing in the church’s reception area.

Reverend Joyce Keyes from Abronhill Church has expressed her thanks for the compassion and support the congregation has received since learning of the deaths of Jim and Ann McQuire, but has continued to ask for privacy from the media.

Speaking ahead of the special prayer session, Reverend Keyes said: "We are grateful for the interest of the public and the media in the tragic death of Ann and Jim McQuire. 

“We have been overwhelmed by expressions of support from those who loved this exceptional couple and many more messages from those who simply shared in our grief. 

“Ann and Jim were a kind and gentle couple who will be sorely missed by our congregation; for their willingness to share their musical talents, for their contributions to the Boys Brigade and for the fellowship we shared.”

Mrs Keyes said that both Jim and Ann had “gave so much to their community and were much loved friends,” asking that the media do “not attend the church” to allow people privacy. 

A spokesperson for the Church of Scotland explained: “While grateful to the media for the opportunity to express the sense of loss felt by so many in the church and to speak about the immense contributions the couple made to the community in Cumbernauld, the minister and the congregation are now requesting privacy as they come together in prayer.”

‘Share our prayers with the community’.

Around 400 attended the special prayer session in memory of the much-loved couple. 

Linda Gray, Abronhill church's Session Clerk, thanked those who attended as well as everyone who has sent messages of support. 

"The church was full," Linda said. "There were lots of people there and we were happy to be together to share our prayers with the community. 

“We would like to thank everyone who came and also the very many people –some we knew and some we did not know—who sent messages of love and support. It was very kind."

She added they'd been comforted by the support received from other churches in Cumbernauld, explaining: "Among those who came today were the Moderator of Falkirk Presbytery, Rev George MacDonald; Rev Grace Saunders, from Condorrat Church, also in Cumbernauld; and Father Joe McAuley from St Lucy's Catholic Church in Cumbernauld. 

“We had several people participating in prayers and acts of remembrance. We also had a lot of representatives from the Boys Brigade: the boys themselves and some of their parents. It was very nice and we are very grateful for all the love and support."

Commenting on the decision to ask the media not to attend at the church, she said: "It's a really difficult time for the family and the congregation so we were very grateful that the press respected our privacy and stayed away today. 

“The Book of Condolence was open and a lot of people signed it. It will continue open, certainly for this Sunday and maybe for the next week or so,” Linda added.

The funeral of Jim and Ann McGuire will take place at Abronhill Parish Church tomorrow (10th July), starting at 2pm.