WHAT began as a simple plan by one woman to light a candle in memory of refugees dying for sanctuary had yesterday become a Europe-wide movement.

Alexis Stearns launched Glasgow Sees Syria on Facebook after friends said they wanted to join her in peaceful commemoration of the refugees who have died seeking safety in Europe.

Yesterday the symbolic act had grown into a pan-European network of events as activists arranged simultaneous vigils in Greece, Italy and France and across the UK.

Talks were underway about establishing groups as far away as Kentucky as more than 11,000 people signed up to the original Glasgow event, which will be held in George Square.

As it begins at 2.30pm on Saturday September 12, so will others in Edinburgh, Shetland, Orkney, Dundee, Cornwall, Chichester, Brighton and Birmingham.

Others will also take place in London, Milan, Bologna, Athens and France.

Stearns, a 33-year-old student teacher from Glasgow, said: “I have been utterly, utterly overwhelmed by how many people want to help. It shows that people were really ready for an opportunity like this.

“A lot of people don’t go to protests and marches because of the potential for them to end up being aggressive. It deters people from using the democratic voice that we all have a right to.

“I really wanted to do something that was peaceful and that entered into the spirit of the tragedy. If you are on the streets screaming and shouting I feel like it’s disrespectful.”

The mother-of-two added: “I don’t really do social media, I’m out on a limb completely. I’m so blown away by it.

“The important thing to remember is it doesn’t matter who started it, what matters is that people realise it is not as difficult as they think it is to start something.

“All I did was say I was going to be there with a candle and this is what has happened.”

As European ministers condemn the UK government for failing to act on the refugee crisis, more and more ordinary people continue to find their own ways to help.

John and Catherine Bradley, from Gullane in East Lothian, will walk for ten hours from North Queensferry to Holyrood in solidarity with the thousands of refugees making their own punishing journeys.

The couple will take their four children on the march, including five-year-old Isla, Jago, three, Merryn, one, and two-month-old Leila.

Currently raising funds for the Red Cross through justgiving.com, they will meet International Development minister Humza Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament following the walk.

John, 32, said the act was inspired by the birth of his youngest child and his experience living in Damascus, Syria, in 2007 while learning Arabic.

He said: “Ever since this crisis in Syria started I have been really conscious that all the families I interacted with day to day, all the people there have been turned upside down in this beautiful country.

“I travelled all over the country and had some really happy times in Aleppo, which is now completely ruined. I had a wonderful time in Palmyra.

“The thing that is striking about this whole situation is this was not some country in the doldrums. The political situation was not good – Bashar Al Assad is a dictator. But it was a peaceful country, a functioning state with reasonable standards of living and this wonderful history and culture.

“You reflect when you have a new child on how lucky you are and it really hit home for us that we have this wonderful stable life and we were able to bring another baby into the world and they were able to have a peaceful existence in Scotland when others weren’t so fortunate. We had to do something.”

Meanwhile, a Fife family have hit out at the Government for refusing to allow them to accommodate refugees in their own home.

Sarah and Graham Neal, from Aberdour, raised the issue with the Tory government through their local MP Roger Mullin, offering their spare room for someone in need after seeing the heartbreaking image of drowned refugee Alan Kurdi, three.

The couple have a 19-month-old son, Jamie, and said no parents could ignore the need to help.

Sarah, 43, told The National: “All across Scotland there are people trying to help and do something practical.

“We want to shame the government into allowing more people to come here.