Bin lorry crash survivor Elaine Morell recalls nothing of the horror accident in Glasgow city centre three days before Christmas last year.
The office worker from Kirkintilloch only remembers waking up in hospital the following day.
What Elaine does know though, is she wouldn’t have coped without the support of the many “incredible” people who have helped her on the long, difficult path to recovery.
Elaine (50) suffered serious injuries to her face and eye after the 26-ton truck careered into her and fellow shoppers in Queen Street on December 22. Six people lost their lives.
Since then, the mum-of-one has had two surgeries to rebuild her shattered face and is due to have another operation.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald on the first anniversary of the tragedy, Elaine said: “Even now, a year on, I can’t believe it happened to me. People were killed. I’m a hell of a lucky woman. I survived.”
The former St Ninian’s High School pupil continued: “The support from people has been overwhelming, so many I don’t even know. Mentally, it really helps you to heal. I just want to say thank you.”
Elaine said on the day of the tragedy she had decided to go Christmas shopping half an hour later as she thought the shops would be quieter. Her office overlooks the crash site.
She said: “I told my colleagues ‘I’m going shopping at 2.30pm’. I was heading down Queen Street and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital. My facial injuries were very severe.
“It was all a bit surreal. I was thinking ‘why did I not see that coming towards me?’
“I was so lucky. I found out the passers-by who ran to help me were a trainee doctor and a nurse. They knew exactly what to do.”
Elaine said medical staff at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital were “amazing”.
She added: “My GP, Dr Murphy, has been great too. I have to get an operation next year. I hope it’s the last one.”
Four bones in Elaine’s face were broken and she suffered a serious injury to her left eye.
The latter, though, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
She said: “I was born with no sight in this eye. If the injury had been to my other eye I could so easily have ended up blind.”
Elaine said she avoided leaving the house for four months after the accident.
She added: “Thankfully I had the support of a fantastic counsellor who has helped me get my confidence back.
“I’ve started walking in parts of Glasgow city centre with company now, but it’s taken a long time to get to that stage.”
Elaine says she is hopeful she will be able to get back to work soon.
Husband Steven (53) and their son Luke (25) have also been a huge support to Elaine.
She said: “I couldn’t have got through it without them. People really pull together.
“I also want to thank my husband’s work, Robeslee Concrete, who have been really wonderful, giving him time off .
“My own office too, have been marvellous.”
A keep fit fanatic, Elaine regularly visited the gym at Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre and said they too, both members and staff, had been wonderful.
Doctors have told Elaine her memory of the accident could come back at any time.
She said: “They said it could be music or a smell. The other day, I heard a Christmas song and it triggered the whole trauma again.”
Today (Tuesday, December 22), Elaine was due to attend a service at Glasgow Cathedral to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy.
She said: “It will be really hard but I have to go. I feel it is something positive to do.”
She added: “I won’t be going anywhere near the part of town where it happened, though. I can’t.”