I was up at 0500 from my sisters in Prestwick for the 90 mile drive to Lockerbie. It was a grand drive as the sunrise and mist of the stunning Ayrshire country welcomed Autumn and the approach of winter. I love this area and pass the famous Glen Buck where Bill Shankly the great Liverpool manager was born. This area is famous for a mining history, great work ethic and community .I played football in many of the villages in my youth this was a place where they were so proud of where they live and their culture. Games were fierce and the whole village watched their teams. Nowadays most of the mines are gone as are the jobs and we lost some amazing folk who had to move to get work. Yet their legacy remains and so many of Scotland’s finest were raised here. In the early morning light and as daybreak arrived I stopped for a few minutes and it was bitter cold.
I was soon in Lockerbie and had a few minutes where I visited the Memorial that means so much to me. It reminded me of why I am here, it’s not just about a cycle but about the folk who died and others who helped in the aftermath. The plan was to visit three Primary schools in the area. I was with Colin Dorrance the man behind our Cycle to Syracuse and the great idea was to tell the story of the Lockerbie tragedy in a way that the children could understand and why we are cycling to Syracuse. It was also to get the kids involved in our cycle. The idea was for the kids in the area to help us cycle by bringing their bikes to school and cycling after our chat. The ones that did not have a bike had a walk, It was also a great opportunity to let them know of the scholarship that Syracuse University has for two students from the Local Lockerbie Academy every year. It was going to be a busy day.
It was all go a chat to the kids with so many questions it was inspiring and their knowledge was incredible. Many of the kids families were involved as had the teachers and there were a few stories of that night in 1988 . Yet there was great hope for the future and it was incredible to be part of this initiative. We showed all the kids the Shepherds Crook and how it was made by the Men’s Shed in Lockerbie and will travel with us to Syracuse. It was made from local wood near Tundergarth where the iconic photo of the Cockpit lay. We spoke of the history of the area and its culture. I got a chance to say how much the local folk, many of the Granny’s, Grandpas, Uncles and Aunts of the kids did for me and the Rescue Teams and the 3000 folk involved in the recovery. It is a huge legacy of caring and kindness. We are also cycling for a local Charity Soul Soup that helps with local children with counselling. The kids were all aware if they have a problem to speak to someone about it.
Soul Soup – who we are?
Soul Soup provide counselling service with full confidentiality, based in Dumfries, Scotland . Alongside counselling we offer a drop-in service, activities and support for young people aged between 12-25 that are struggling to cope with emotional distress or mental health difficulties. We are completely free and confidential and outreach to the rest of Dumfries and Galloway as much as possible.
It was such a great day and the cycling was such fun at every school. I was so impressed by the children’s knowledge we spoke about the local area, America and our journey. There was hardly time for a break for lunch but so much to do the time passed so quick. I have rarely met so many dedicated folk as the teachers I met today, they were so helpful and enthusiastic. It was clear that all the teachers I met were dedicated to their job and this world that you rarely see the good things going on it was a joy to see. We are lucky to have such children and the teachers who can inspire the next generation and I think we will need them to make this world a better place.
I left after dropping of some stuff at Lockerbie Academy and headed off home a long 5 hours drive but what a buzz I felt. The cycle is only a part of this adventure and I am so glad that I managed a day with the Children. They are the future and the all signed our book that we will take to Syracuse and maybe one day a few of them may gain a scholarship at Syracuse University and the World may become a better place.
Thank you Colin and Brain for the idea and getting the schools involved it was inspirational and thanks to all the schools for taking the time to help us. To the children you made my day and made me miss my Grand daughters who live so far away even more. Good luck for the future to you all. What a start you have in life with such good schools and role models.
Look Back, Act Forward.