Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"Heave awa"

My first thoughts on waking this morning were "Have the Chilean miners been rescued?". Like most people I've been moved by the extraordinary story and uplifted watching them being reunited with their families.

Under the central oriel of Paisley's Close, 99 High Street, Edinburgh, is a carved portrait head by John Rhind.  The inscription "Heave awa' chaps, I'm no dead yet" commemorates the rescue of a boy buried when a previous building on the site collapsed in November 1861.

Thirty five people were killed when the then 250 year old building collapsed and there was thought to be no survivors.  As debris was being cleared away, a voice was heard and, with renewed hope, local people started to remove the rubble as quickly as possible and shouted words of encouragement to the trapped Joseph McIvor who, in turn called "Heave awa' lads, I'm no deid yet" (his vernacular was anglicised on the carving).

As a result of the tragedy, the issues of building standards and overcrowding (and the resultant insanitary conditions) were finally addressed by Edinburgh Town Council.

Thankfully, no-one was killed in the 2010 Copiapó mining accident but let's hope it brings about some changes.

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