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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Airport heroes thanked by Salmond
Alex Salmond (centre) with Michael Kerr (left) and John Smeaton (right)
Alex Salmond met airport heroes Michael Kerr and John Smeaton
First Minister Alex Salmond has thanked hundreds of people who helped out during the Glasgow Airport attack at a special reception in the city.

About 500 members of the public and people from the emergency, health and civic services attended the event at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum.

The first minister said the country was "in their debt".

Guests were invited to the ceremony by Mr Salmond to thank them for helping to "avert a major disaster" on 30 June.

'Collective spirit'

Among those attending were some of the first people to deal with the blazing jeep that crashed into the airport's main entrance on that day.

These included hero baggage handler John Smeaton and several other members of the public who helped tackle suspects from the vehicle.

He was joined by scores of police, fire, ambulance and health workers - many in uniform - who responded, airport staff who managed to keep order, as well as doctors and nursing staff from hospitals caught up in the aftermath.

Also present were members of the Muslim community who condemned the attack, which was the first of its kind on Scottish soil.

Mr Salmond told guests that they all demonstrated a "triumph of collective spirit".

Alex Salmond (centre) meets fire men
As a nation we united and illustrated an absolute determination to prevent the attack from disrupting daily life in this country
Alex Salmond
First minister

He said: "Tonight we recognise the courage and commitment to public safety demonstrated by each of these people.

"Because the fact that your instinctive reaction was to help and not hold back, says everything about your sense of responsibility to those around you.

"The Glasgow attack showed that Scotland is not immune from the threat of terrorism.

"But as a nation we united and illustrated an absolute determination to prevent the attack from disrupting daily life in this country."

The guests were piped into Kelvingrove's main hall, where they mingled and chatted with each other and VIPs including Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and where they listened to Mr Salmond say a few words.

Generous donation

The SNP leader mentioned Mr Smeaton during his speech, praising his actions and also noting his now famous phrase "banjoed", when he referred to when he tackled one of the suspects.

The 31-year old from Erskine in Renfrewshire has since made several TV appearances, and was a guest of the prime minister at Downing Street last week.

After the attack, a website was set up in his honour and he announced he would give more than 2,000 of money pledged to him to a veteran's charity.

Mr Salmond said: "Away from the cameras, John's action on 30 June and his generous donation to Erskine, show exactly the kind of man he is."

Michael Kerr, who broke a leg after tackling one of the suspects from the jeep, was also honoured at the event.

Taxi driver Alexander McIlveen, who helped police arriving on the scene, ground worker Stephen Clarkson and baggage handler Michael McDonald, who assisted police, were also recognised at the reception.

Several officers first on the scene were also called up on stage, including PC Stewart Ferguson, who had gone to the airport to pick up his parents when the drama unfolded, and Sergeant Torquil Campbell, who also went to help.

Michael Kerr's account of the airport attack

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