Lockerbie – Thinking of all those who lost loved ones and those who were involved on that tragic day.

The Anniversary of Lockerbie A Hard Day as always . Today I will be Thinking of the families who lost loved ones and all those involved in Emergency Services. Also the people of Lockerbie who did so much for all those involved.

Words can never tell the story.

Normally I try to get away to the hills on this day, I like to be on my own and the wild places are a place I get peace. It’s the Anniversary of Lockerbie that happened on 21 December today in 1988. Most will know my story but it had and has a huge effect on me and many I love.

The Rememberance window at Lockerbie.

At the time I was 34 and been in RAF Mountain Rescue for 17 years. In that period I had seen most things that few would ever see in a lifetime. I was the Team leader at RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue team it was a job I had worked hard for and was so pleased when I became Team Leader. Most of the team were young folk many in their early 20’s this was already a superb group of people tried and tested in Scotland’s Mountains.

The Leuchars Team.

I felt I was ready for anything sadly there were the constant tragedies in the mountains but also horrific plane crashes. In the end there were also great rescues and we working with the local Mountain Rescue had saved many lives. Most people even in Mountain Rescue had never seen things on a scale that I had it seemed constant and we moved from area to area helping each team when asked.

Yet Lockerbie with its terrible death toll and trauma will be with me and many others for the rest of my life. It was a terrible period but we had 4 RAF MR Teams and the local teams , SARDA and many from the South involved in Mountain Rescue and SARDA. All were helping the Police, Ambulance and Fire Service the many helicopters and so many others. It was a huge effort by all the were so many involved and each has a story. Despite it being a tragedy out anything that had occurred in peace time the best of the Scottish spirit came out. The local folk despite losing their own helped us all so much they have a specail place in my heart.

The Cycle to Syracuse team

As a Team Leader of a RAF Mountain Rescue team I struggled with trying to look after my team and so many others I knew . This was a huge incident with so much tragedy never seen on a scale in the UK in peacetime. It took a huge toll on me and effected my life with my partner at the time and the kids. My family and friends had little clue about what had happened. This was common to most of us, the effects of such trauma was rarely spoken about then.

In America at Syracuse

Little was known or spoken about PTSD then folk did not talk but it took a huge toll on so many. You were noted as a weak person of you asked for help. There was little about it especially in the military where the attitude “was get over it “ This is what you are here for.

Yet as I told a very Senior officer in the RAF afterwards that I doubt he would ever see what or could understand what we had been through. That did not go down well at the time.I have written at length in my blog of some of what happened it’s hard reading.

Last year I was invited to Cycle to Syracuse a University in the USA that lost 35 students in that tragic night. I met so many relatives of the students on that trip on our 7 day cycle. They showered our small group of 5 cyclist with love and kindness on the journey. We spoke to so many and learned individual stories of those they lost.

It was an event that after 30 years made such an impact on me. I knew the cycle would hurt physically but I got a terrible bout of Bronchitis that ( a year later I am still trying to clear)

Meeting the relatives was the most moving things in my life .

I knew that this trip would have a huge effect on me emotionally /mentally. Meeting so many relatives was overwhelming and took a huge effect on me every day. Yet I will never forget the words that were spoken to us by so many who had lost so much.

They were all very interested in the huge effect it had on those who were involved in the Emergency Services. Many who still struggle today and who were young folk like many of those who died.If your one of them (every year I hear from someone different whose life was effected ) please get help.

For me it’s a difficult time and most folk who know me know this. I try to deal with it in my own way.Today I cannot get out on the hills I am helping a friend move home from Respite care so she can be with her family over Christmas.

Please if your loved ones were involved in Lockerbie give them some space but be there if needed.

I may get out next week all being well the wild places clear the mind for me.It’s a hard time for many especially those who were heavily involved.

Thinking of you all at this difficult time.

Thanks to the Cycle to Syracuse Team for all their help and to relatives of those who lost their lives you are in my thoughts.

The Team David Walpole Collin Dorrance Paul Rae and Brian Asher. Photo David Marchi photography

Over the years I have tried to write about the effect of Lockerbie on my blogs. This is not for highlighting my part but how so many worked and gave so much there are so many unsung folk during this period.

It’s easy to forget incidents but those involved will never forget. Yet there were so many wonderful people who helped us during that terrible period. The local ladies “The Angels of Lockerbie” who fed us 24 hours every day and were there with a cuddle when we all needed it. Then we had to leave and go back to our families for Christmas as if little had happened. I will never forget in the USA being told on our cycle we had brought their loved ones home. The journey was completed, there was no hatred just love and compassion from so many things I will never forget.

Thank you all

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 and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lockerbie – Thinking of all those who lost loved ones and those who were involved on that tragic day.

  1. ptsd17 says:

    Your a legend Heavy!
    Take Care

    Liked by 1 person

  2. George Phillips says:

    Thank you for the timely reminder, Heavy. A terrible tragedy for all those victims. Reading your moving piece above I just shed a tear for you guys who were first there on the ground. I hope all of you are well. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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