Channel 5 Documentary on  Lockerbie “The unheard voices”

Firstly thanks for the many kind words I received from so many on the documentary “The unheard voices “ that was on Channel 5 last night.  I heard from a lot of folk and I was glad that many learned a bit more of the story.

The documentary was not what I was expecting and I feel concentrated too much on the night and events leading up to it. I was hoping that maybe some of the good things that have happened in the last 30 years may have been covered but sadly I felt they were not.

I spoke to the film crew in Lockerbie in the summer and I thought that they were also following our Cycle to Syracuse. This was in memory of the 35 Students from Syracuse University who died in the crash and also for all the victims. I have written in detail about our journey which was the incredible vision of Colin Dorrance who was a young policeman in Lockerbie at the time of the event.

We had a lot of media attention and they filmed a fair bit over the period. Our journey brought a lot of comfort to the many relatives we met especially in the USA . Sadly there was none of this and the incredible stories of the relatives we met.

I am often asked why do I speak to the media when I find it difficult . I do it to mention all the Mountain Rescue teams , Search Dogs , handlers and the army who were involved. The Army who did a huge amount of the body recovery and clean up. There’s a unheard story that needs telling?  I also try to get the message about the effect it had on many of us and still does. PTSD was unheard of and we did our bit at the time to make more of the establishment acknowledge it. This is still an ongoing struggle for many including myself.

Meeting some of the families they made a huge impression on me and the team .

A huge story missed was of the Ladies of Lockerbie one who was with us who like many did so much for us all during the tragedy and afterwards. Sadly this was not shown they have  a story to tell.  These folk hardly talk about what they did and saw but they all left a huge impression on me for the rest of my life.  I had the honour to meet one lady in the USA where she was visiting the relatives for whom she and many others from the town have done so much. The ladies also looked after all the Agencies involved despite what had happened the destruction in the town and losing 11 local people. They fed us and looked after just unsung folks who mean so much.

These ladies also washed the clothes that were found in the search area so that when they were repatriated they were clean for the grieving families. The relatives have never forgotten these ladies and for the past 30 years the care and kindness of the local people when they visited to honour their loved ones. These are the stories of the bond the love that has transcended the tragedy.

I have about 20 comments from various members of the Rescue Teams that I will collate and pass on to the ladies. Words will never be enough but to hear the comments of many who were so young at the time is heart warming and are another untold story. If anyone else would like to add more I will hold back for another two weeks ?

As part of the journey before we left we had visited many of the schools in the area and I think over 1300 plus kids learned about the Tragedy and also the link with Syracuse University and the scholarship. I did only one day but we visited three school all primary and what an experience it was for us all. Many of the kids families had been involved and their knowledge of 30 years ago was incredible. Grannies and grandpa’s Aunts and Uncles had spoken about it and we spoke about what happened and afterwards they a;; cycled or walked to get us the 3000 miles plus over the Atlantic. It was a wonderful experience and left a great legacy for the kids.

Our Cycle took us to Syracuse University where 35 students died on the plane . The University also gives two scholarships annually to Lockerbie Academy Students and there has been 58 students have benefited from this and hopefully many more will do in the future.  There is a huge bond with the University and the town that we were privileged to be part off during their week of Commemoration.

We met so many families on our trip and were looked after so well. We met many on the road  and were with several families even staying with one overnight and others made us meals after a long day on the bikes. We met one lady who said we had brought her daughter home. She was over 80 had visited Lockerbie for many years but felt the journey was too much now . This was such a wonderful meeting and what a lady there was no hate just thanks for our trip. It was one the highlights of the journey we had.  We also met one young lady and her Dad who had lost 4 in their family including an unborn child. It was early in the trip and it was hard to leave them and continue on our cycle. These were incredible events for us all. I wanted to tell them what my friends and other agencies had done during the tragedy and the families were very interested in their story.  They found it hard to understand that most of the Rescue teams and dogs were unpaid volunteers some were there for weeks. At the end their was limited support for them both if needed mentally and Psychologically?

These were some of the stories that means so much to me and so many others.

It was also sad to see the terrible footage again of the parent who had been told about the crash and her despair at the airport after hearing of  losing a loved one.

Yet 30 year on there is a lot happening Lockerbie has moved on it and it’s people will never forget but what they did and do is still incredible. The town is an incredible place they live in the future and it was such an honour to be with the team and share some of the stories. I met and made many new friends and many of my pals have said this has helped them chase some demons.

I wrote a piece on this blog about a 70 mile training cycle with the team and found it hard cycling round places that meant so much to me. I had a great response from local folk many who spoke about it openly for the first time.

Lockerbie is a place that will always be in my thoughts especially on the 30 th Anniversary and I hope many of the good stories come out.

At Syracuse University with Paul and David.

I was chased by the media for a comments this week and had to turn so many down I live 250 miles from Lockerbie and feel I have done what I can.

I am honouring a few that I said I would do but have to be careful as its easy to fall into a dark place but I have great friends and family to talk to. I am lucky so if your struggling talk to someone.

I hope this makes sense to those who chose to read it and to all my friends who were involved will be aware that many more folk are aware of what you all did.

These words below are so powerful to me . When you meet relatives even 30 years on we are all connected . These were incredible days and I met so many of the “unheard voices “who were despite a tragedy few can understand how they live in hope for a better world .

Thanks to the whole team for the chance to meet so many and bring so much positive thoughts back.

Too the folk of Lockerbie thank you all I will be thinking of you all on the 21 st. December.

Its worth noting that two of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams Stafford and Leeming involved in Lockerbie were at the air crash at Kegworth on the 8 th Jan 1989 there were 47 killed but this time lives were saved a huge difference. The teams expertise was used to assist in getting the casualties out of the aircraft 79 alive.

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 Aircraft incidents, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Plants, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Channel 5 Documentary on  Lockerbie “The unheard voices”

  1. ptsd17 says:

    The program itself was OK, it was good to see the routes of others to the airport, and those that never made the flight. I would have liked to have seen your cycle as a completely different program solely on the cycle and Syracuse University.

    Liked by 1 person

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