THE body of tragic schoolgirl Eilidh Macleod will today arrive home on Barra for the final time.
It comes ahead of tomorrow’s funeral for the 14-year-old – the only Scottish victim of the Manchester Arena terror bombing.
Her schoolpal Laura MacIntyre – who was at last month’s Ariana Grande concert with Eilidh – survived the horror blast but is still being treated for serious injuries in hospital, although her condition has markedly improved in the last week.
Hundreds of people are expected at tomorrow’s emotional service at Our Lady, Star of the Sea at Castlebay on the Outer Hebrides island.
Eilidh will be buried on neighbouring island Vatersay, where she grew up.
Ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne has altered its Oban to Castlebay timetable to make it possible for scores of mourners to travel from the mainland – and return the same day of the funeral.
A spokesman for CalMac said: “We are glad to help out because of the exceptional circumstances.
“We realise there will be a lot of people wanting to attend and there is a shortage of accommodation on Barra.
“So by making it possible to travel there and back on the same day while taking in the service, we hope we will help.
“We were delighted to do this.”
In a statement issued last week, Laura’s parents said: “We have been overwhelmed by the love, help and support from everyone.
“It means so much to us.
“Laura sustained horrendous injuries.
“The main worries being head and leg injuries.
“She is making remarkable progress. Today she came off the ventilator and is talking and recognising us. She is amazing us every day with her strength and determination.
“We have a long way to go but we are going in the right direction. We are so lucky to have her.
“The hospital and the staff are amazing.”
The couple added: “We only wish that Eilidh was here too. Our hearts and thoughts are with Eilidh’s family.”
A campaign set up to aid the families of the two Castlebay Community School pupils has now raised more than £90,000.
Eilidh’s great uncle Donald Manford said: “The family continue to be overwhelmed by the support they have received.”
Father John Paul Mackinnon, who will be conducting the funeral service, added: “It has been a difficult time but the family and wider community are buoyed by the messages of support they have received. “It has been overwhelming.”