Last night there was a documentary on BBC 1 looking back at Dunblane Tragedy. It was 10 years ago to the day that Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary school and shot randomly at a class in the school’s gym hall.
It’s strange how sometimes you can’t recall where you were last Tuesday but you can always recall where you were when you heard about something like this. How many times have you heard someone say “I can still remember where I was when Kennedy was shot?” or “I was at work when I heard Elvis had died?”. I wasn’t born when Kennedy was shot but I can recall exactly where I was when I first heard about 9/11 and I know exactly where I was when I heard that something had happened in Dunblane Primary.
I was off work that day with shocking morning sickness as I was 2 months pregnant with my daughter. I was sat in front of the tv feeling sorry for myself watching Richard & Judy when reports first came through. An hour after the first news flash (which had claimed 2 people had been shot in the school) the news came through that in fact as many as 6 children had been shot dead. That was bad enough but a few hours later it was revealed that the number was 16 and the teacher had also been killed, 12 were injured and only 1 child out of the whole class had escaped without injury. It was also confirmed that these wee one’s were Primary One’s…aged just 5.
The next few days were filled with news about the events in Dunblane and tv screens and newspapers were filled with the images of the little ones who lost their lives. I wasn’t yet a parent back then as I was awaiting my first stork visit but you didn’t have to be a parent to feel utter sadness and grief for those wee babies and their poor families.
Time passes though and the news changes and before you know it 10 years have passed. We all know the cliché that time is a great healer and it is but last night proved that while time can ease the pain it doesn’t erode it altogether. Dunblane will always be associated with the terrible events that took place there.
As I watched last night I felt unbelievable sadness again for what happened in that small town. I had tears running down my face as I watched the people who had been involved on the day recount what happened. The tears continued as I watched the parents describe the wait they had before finding out that they were one of the unlucky one’s who had lost a child. The tears stayed as I watched the parents wonder what their child would have been like now as a 15 year old. The tears kept coming as I watched the original footage of the police officer telling a packed press conference of those who had died repeating “aged 5 “ at the end of each of their names. You would have needed a heart of stone not to have at least felt a lump in your throat.
When the programme drew to end I got up and walked away to have a cigarette feeling a bit like I had lost something myself. Maybe because of my change in circumstances in the last ten years I felt the sorrow a bit more last night. I now live in a small community where everyone knows each other like Dunblane. I am now also a mother of 2 and one of my 2 just happens to be a 5 year old in Primary One with all his life ahead of him…just like those wee one’s were.
Whatever the reason I went to bed last night with a sadness about me, but not before I had looked in on my kids. 9 year old was fast asleep but 5 year old was awake…I looked at him, told him I loved him and gave him a hug all the while counting my blessings.
There was a bright spot covered in the programme last night though and that was the fact that following Dublane changes were made to our laws. The new Labour government which came to power a year or so after Dunblane immediately banned the use of handguns in the U.K following failure by the previous administration to bow to public pressure and do so. They also took action to ensure better security in our schools. Try walking into a school today off the streets…it’s not easy…and that’s how it should be.
It is just a pity that 17 innocents lost their lives before these measures were considered necessary.