Off to talk to some Schools in the Lockerbie area about our Cycle to Syracuse trip in late October.

This is from our Press Release.

Cycle to Syracuse will operate in three distinct stages :-

Stage 1 – Pupil Power (7th September to 10th October 2018)

A tour of 12 local primary schools that serve Lockerbie Academy, culminating in an event at Lockerbie Academy itself. Pupils will learn a brief history of the incident, understanding why Syracuse is significant in this initiative and then will participate in the ‘journey’ by taking to bicycles or performing suitable exercise.

A specially crafted Shepherds Crook, sourced from wood in the Tundergarth area, will be endorsed by the participating pupils in a dedicated book – both of which will make the complete tour to Syracuse University, where they will be presented to the Chancellor and President as gifts from the town.

This stage will be dedicated to the memory of the three children of Lockerbie who were killed in Sherwood Crescent :- Joanne Flannagan and Lynsey and Paul Somerville; and to Andrew McClune –  a Lockerbie student who died whilst on his scholarship at Syracuse University in 2002

21st December 1988, 259 people boarded Pan Am Flight 103 at London Heathrow and did not make it home. They were killed by a terrorist bomb aboard the aircraft, which detonated in the skies above Lockerbie. The resulting collision of the aircraft wreckage in the town killed 11 residents on the ground and traumatised hundreds more.

30 years later, ‘Cycle to Syracuse’ aims to complete that journey on behalf of those who could not.

‘Cycle to Syracuse’ is a three-part cycling initiative to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster, by remembering those lost in the air and on the ground, the work of the emergency services and the response of the townspeople in the aftermath.

A team of Five Cyclists form the core group who will complete the journey, comprising

Brian Asher – Head Teacher, Lockerbie Academy

Colin Dorrance – Police Scotland and Lockerbie Resident

Paul Rae – Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Lockerbie Resident

David Walpole – Scottish Ambulance Service, Lockerbie

David Whalley – RAF Mountain Rescue Service (1988 at Lockerbie)

Aims and Objectives

‘Cycle to Syracuse’ aims to raise funds and awareness for a worthwhile mental health charity. ‘Soul Soup’ is a Dumfries based youth counselling and drop-in service available to young people in the region who may be in need of help, someone to talk to, referral to a specialist counselling or treatment service or who seek advice and guidance as they navigate their way through the stresses and strains of growing up in an ever competitive and demanding society.

Soul Soup ( are accredited to work with Dumfries and Galloway Education Department and are in the process of installing dedicated workers in communities around Dumfries and Galloway where capacity and funding permit.

The specific aim of Cycle to Syracuse is to provide sufficient funding to help place a dedicated Soul Soup worker at Lockerbie Academy, to serve the school and the youth of the local Lockerbie community.

Cycle to Syracuse aims to promote positive mental health through exercise for all ages and to assist in the conversation surrounding the merits of seeking structured counselling in the aftermath of trauma, such as that which affected many through the events of 1988.

Cycle to Syracuse aims to highlight and strengthen the ongoing links between the town and Syracuse University, where an annual scholarship programme has existed since 1990 and has resulted in 58 Lockerbie Academy students studying at the University, forging multiple bonds and friendships between families on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lots of folk are asking me why I am cycling. I have the honour to represent The RAF and Military that were involved in the Lockerbie Disaster 30 years ago.     I am the only non – Lockerbie resident  and this is a massive undertaking for me. I have been training for about 8 months now and found it very hard going but it will be worth it in the end. I feel that I will not just be representing the RAF but all my pals in Mountain Rescue and SARDA throughout the UK who were involved during these dark days. Yet there is a great light coming through this initiative and I have seen what the town of Lockerbie has done for all those families and relatives that visit the town. These are great people and a huge love and care is involved even 30 years on.

As the only one who travels long distances  due to my location in Burghead I have covered in my car nearly 3000 miles for meetings etc and by the time we go 2000 miles on the bike through a hard winter. I fell of and lost time with my rib injury and the body hurts after 50 years in the mountains. Operations on the knees and general ware and tear I will never make a cyclist but it has opened my eyes to my local area and further afield. In August we did a 70 mile loop round Lockerbie and I found that hard not just physically but mentally passing places that I saw in different light in December 1988. Yet is is an amazing event and the 700 plus miles in a week in the USA to the University will be hard but what a journey.

I thank you for all your support and thoughts, this is not for me but for all those who December 1988 changed their lives. I was a young Team Leader in charge of the finest folk you could meet, we thought we had seen everything that life could through at us. How we grew up that night and the people of Lockerbie were incredibly kind to us all. This was despite loss to the town of 11 lives and the tragedy all around.

Things have moved on since then and the ties that bind us together are stronger now. Thank you Colin Dorrance for all your work and your vision for this event.

Today when we speak to the young folk at the schools many will be unaware of what happened nearly 30 years ago! The kindness of their folk to us all. The people of the area took us into their hearts . Many will now be Grannies Grandpas and have so many memories over the years is a tale worth reminding us all of.

It will be an interesting day and another early start for me!

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Mountaineering, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

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