Dunblane ‘quietly’ recalls school horror 20 years on

A woman and police officer pay their respects in Dunblane in 1996. Picture: Getty
A woman and police officer pay their respects in Dunblane in 1996. Picture: Getty
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The people of Dunblane are set to “quietly remember” the 20th anniversary of the atrocity that killed 16 children and their teacher.

The Stirlingshire town has gained praise for the dignified manner in which its inhabitants live with the tragic events of March 13, 1996, and tomorrow will be no different.

The shock and sadness is still felt by people throughout Scotland and further afield”

KATE THOMSON

A spokesman for the town’s St Mary’s Episcopal Church said “the very sensitive issue” would be remembered in homes and churches on Sunday.

He said: “Like others, we want to respect the wishes of the community. I can’t think any church will not mention the anniversary in their prayers. We will dedicate prayers to those affected.”

The congregation at Dunblane Cathedral has, as it did for the tenth anniversary, agreed no special services should be held.

A spokeswoman said: “The tragedy will very much be taken into consideration but may not be remembered overtly in services. This is what was agreed after much discussion within the congregation and wider community.”

One woman, who has lived in the town for 40 years, said: “The tragedy is never forgotten. It can’t be. Families who lost young sons and daughters still live here, many of their sisters and brothers live here. For them, life has to go on.”

The killing of the children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School by Thomas Hamilton, who went on to kill himself, led to the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the 
world.

Stirling local area commander Chief Inspector Paul Rollo said: “This terrible incident cast a shadow on the town and on Sunday we will join together in remembrance and to celebrate the vibrant 
community which has overcome such tragedy.”

Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson added: “Much has changed in 20 years but the shock and sadness is still felt by people throughout Scotland and further afield.”

There are no official plans to mark the day but survivors and relatives have been reflecting on the tragedy.

Mick North, whose five-year-old daughter, Sophie, was killed, said the positive legacy should not be forgotten – that people are safer from gun crime than they were 20 years ago thanks to tougher legal controls on gun ownership.

He said: “In many respects, the day of the anniversary won’t be ­especially different. The importance is as an occasion when others can recall and reflect on a horrific event, and also a time when those too young to remember might learn about what happened and consider its significance.”

The EIS teaching union has said a trust set up in the name of teacher Gwen Mayor has distributed almost £100,000 to more than 200 school-based cultural, sporting and community projects across Scotland.

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