Home at last from Cycle to Syracuse.

It’s been some journey but what a incredible thing to do and be part of at last I am home.

I am as many know an used to tragedy and spend time with relatives over the years. I knew this was going to be out of anything I had been involved in before.

This has been incredible I have met so many families every day and on the final days of our journey it was amazing. I also met a lady that means so much to me Josephine one of those Lockerbie ladies who looked after us at the tragedy and the families for 30 years.

I trained hard long days on my own for nearly a year. In all weathers and at 65 I it was really physical and a hard winter .I was carrying a heath worry from the start but was getting there, I ended up enjoying the bike. At the end I had acute bronchitis and was pretty unwell it got all to serious. I got soaked after the ride to Edinburgh I was already running on empty and could not chase off the chest infection or fever.

Yet though I hardly cycled it hurt me but it was only my pride. As I was in the van at times I felt a real fraud, the vidoe of me says it all

Yet my team mates understood and never said a bad word. I think they appreciated that I was their for my bond with the families and for what I could tell them.

In my job the Mountain Rescue Teams and SARDA Dogs we saw the worst of the tragedy. As one of the leaders I watched the pain and hurt of all involved. I saw what my friends did the simple things that will never be spoken about. I tried to convey this to every relative I met.

Every day hurt we met so many families but gained so much from each other. They were so appreciative of what we were trying to achieve.

What will happen in the future ? I will never know but I do no that some of the pain is gone but the words of the young people we met are the future of this story.

I end this with the words of the two Lockerbie Scholars they gave at the Service.

Rose Laying Ceremony Speech

I am not a native of Lockerbie. I moved into the area at the age of 7, arriving from the hectic and bustling city of Manchester, moving into what has got to be one of the quietest and most peaceful areas of the world. Growing up in the town, it has always been a struggle for me to imagine that such a beautifully tranquil area could be subjected to a tragedy so horrific and scarring.

It is now 30 years since the Pan Am 103 disaster, an incident that has shaped not only Lockerbie and Syracuse; but the world.

Since that fateful night, and with time passing at such an incredible speed, it highlights the importance of our continued Remembrance of all those involved, pulling together and to execute the motto of ‘Looking back, acting forward’ with vigour and hope, desiring and striving for a better world without terrorism.

It is an honour to be able to be here, in Syracuse, representing Lockerbie.

Joseph Holland Lockerbie student at Syracuse .

“An individual who was just as honoured to be carrying forth the Remembrance of all those involved in the disaster, was Andrew McClune, a Lockerbie Scholar just like Harriet and I.

Andrew tragically died whilst over here in Syracuse, but his memory has also been carried on and immortalised. From all accounts I have heard Andrew to be described as a determined, bright and genuine chap, full of sensitivity, thoughtfulness and passion for the scholarship.         I have found a bond in the similarities I share with him, from our passions and interests, or as previous Head Boys of Lockerbie Academy. Andrew brought a slice of Scotland with him and set up Syracuse University’s curling team; he was fun loving and full of a dry sense of humour. It is his mum’s wish that Andrew’s memory is carried on, along with every victim of the Pan Am 103 disaster. I feel privileged to be here today, reading this in his memory.

Our two communities are forever bound by such a tragic event, and we stand here today in recognition of that fact. But this act of remembrance does not have to be a solely solemn affair, we can look to remember all 270 victims, the 35 Syracuse students and the 11 Lockerbie residents – in a manner which celebrates their lives. We can do this through a quote that Andrew lived by, and that is:

“Lift your face to the sun, and the shadows will be behind you”

I lay this rose on behalf of Andrew and act forward in his memory.”

Lockerbie Scholars

Harriet Graham – Lockerbie resident and Lockerbie Scholar at Syracuse .

Lockerbie Eleven Rose Laying Speech

“Today I represent the eleven Lockerbie residents who died on the night of December 21st 1988. This is a responsibility that I will not only honour today, but every day for the rest of my life. Coming from such a small town in Scotland to a place like Syracuse was overwhelming, but I am so glad to be here in order to speak for those who are now unable to, due to an act of terrorism. The people of Lockerbie will forever be affected by the disaster, yet it has not led us to be restricted or fearful in any way. We remain as we have always been since that fateful night, a community of strong and kind people who can work together in the face of adversity, who provided homes for those who needed help and who volunteered their time without a second thought to confront the disaster. The Lockerbie victims were schoolchildren, parents, married couples, members of the same family, elderly widows. They all had hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled. As I grew up, we were taught about the disaster, but it was difficult for me to comprehend the true impact of the event until recently. I have visited the gardens where there were once houses, I have noticed the concrete that fills in the holes made by airplane debris, and I have stood by the memorials and read the names one by one. Lyndsey, Paul, Rosalind and Jack Somerville, Joanne, Kathleen and Thomas Flannigan, Dora and Maurice Henry, Mary Lancaster and Jean Murray. People I might have known if they were with us today, with Lockerbie being a community where we all seem to know each other, and everyone you pass on the street says hello. These people, among the 270 victims, will be remembered today as they have been every day since the disaster for 30 years, and forever more in the hearts of the people of Lockerbie, the families and friends, and the international network of volunteers, emergency workers and of course, past and future Lockerbie and Remembrance Scholars. I lay this rose on behalf of the Lockerbie 11 and act forward in their memory.”

Wonderful tributes from two young folk who like many I met can change the world.

The journey home was a long one. I need to recharge get well and get my mind cleared.

Thank you all for the support, letters , love and kindness.

The kids are home , the families have passed another milestone but like us all will live with the memories. I cannot wait to get back to normality is there such a thing? I cannot wait to see Ellie Skye and Lexi my granddaughters they have missed out on my visits. They live so far away.

What a year. Thanks to Colin for his vision and David, Paul, Brian for their support and huge effort throughout the trip. We made great pals on our journey.

Of course “Peg and Miles the magician “whose advice was incredible and Judith and the support crew.  To Sarah thanks for the poster and Dianne for keeping me safe on that long drive home, but that is another story.

Thank you all.

Lots of love and now to switch off and clear the head.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Cycling, Family, Friends, PTSD, Views Political?, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Home at last from Cycle to Syracuse.

  1. Charlie Cartwright says:

    Welcome back, Well done. Now get well

    Liked by 1 person

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