US events to mark Lockerbie bombing 30th anniversary

A Lockerbie memorial stands in Dryfesdale Cemetery in the town (Andrew Milligan/PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Scottish Secretary and a group of charity cyclists are to attend US events marking the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing.

Pan Am flight 103 was on its way from London to New York when it exploded above Lockerbie on the evening of December 21 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

Thirty-five of them were students at Syracuse University in the US, who were travelling home for the Christmas holidays.

David Mundell will be in New York on October 30 and 31 for Syracuse University’s annual remembrance week and will also meet a group of Scottish cyclists covering the final leg of their 3,238-mile journey from Lockerbie to Syracuse to remember those who died.

Colin Dorrance, who was an 18-year-old off-duty police officer on the night of the bombing, is leading the group which includes David Whalley, leader of the RAF search and rescue team on the night and Brian Asher, the head teacher at Lockerbie Academy.

In the US they will set off on Friday from the Lockerbie memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery and ride through Maryland, Philadelphia and New York City, ending at Syracuse University.

Mr Mundell will see the group off from New York City’s Central Park on Tuesday morning before meeting staff and students at Syracuse.

He said: “I was brought up in Lockerbie, and know how deeply the air disaster has impacted on the town. But I have also seen the very positive links which have grown between Lockerbie and Syracuse University over the years since.

“As we approach the 30th anniversary of the bombing, it is fitting that five local men are making the journey to Syracuse to remember those lost, and to raise money for a local youth mental health charity. I look forward to seeing them off on the final leg of their journey, and to seeing our friends again in Syracuse for the University’s 30th remembrance week.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell will be in New York for two days of commemoration events Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

As well as remembering the 270 people who died the event is also raising money for Soul Soup, a local youth mental health charity.

Cycle team leader Mr Dorrance said: “Our journey to Syracuse started in the primary schools around Lockerbie. We have had the opportunity to tell the children about the bombing, but also about the wonderful opportunity that they may have to study at Syracuse in the future.

“It has encouraged them to speak to their parents about the bombing, learning something of how it affected the older generation in 1988. We are all reminded of just how selfless and heroic so many people were, and how widely it is still talked about today. Of course, for some, the journey will never end.

“My teammates and I are focused on the 600 miles we will cycle in the USA over the next week, ending at Syracuse University. The prospect is exciting, humbling and moving all in one.”