DAVID Mundell will Travel to New York next week to mark the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity.
The Scottish Secretary will take part in a number of events and support a near 700-mile charity bike ride across the US by five Local men as part of the commemorations.
They are held in October rather than in December when the tragedy happened in order to avoid the bad weather that can often affect the east coast just before Christmas.
It was on December 21 1988 when 259 passengers on board Pan Am Flight 103 from London Heathrow to the US were killed by a terrorist bomb which detonated in the skies over Lockerbie. The aircraft wreckage crashing on the town killed 11 Lockerbie residents.
Thirty years on, the cyclists will ride from Lockerbie to Syracuse in upstate New York to complete the journey on behalf of those who could not.
They represent Lockerbie Academy, Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.
The charity ride started with visits to Local schools around Lockerbie and was followed by a mass cycle earlier this month when dozens of cyclists rode from the town to Edinburgh Castle.
The third and final stage in America will set off today from the Lockerbie memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery.
The cyclists will ride through Maryland, Philadelphia and New York City, ending at Syracuse University next Thursday.
Mr Mundell will see the group off from New York’s City’s Central Park on Tuesday morning on the final stage of their journey. The Secretary of State will then travel to Syracuse University to meet staff and students and take part in the university’s annual remembrance week.
Following the tragedy strong links have been built up between Lockerbie and Syracuse University, where 35 of the victims were students.
Since 1990, a Syracuse Scholarship has allowed young people from Lockerbie Academy to study in the US. So far, 58 Scottish students have studied at Syracuse University, forging strong bonds and friendships between families on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mr Mundell 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.”
Colin Dorrance, the cycle team leader, was an 18-year-old off-duty police officer, just three months into his career as a police officer, when he witnessed the crash happening; he was later involved in the search and rescue operation.
He said: “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.”
Cycle to Syracuse is raising money for Local youth mental health charity Sou Soup. People can donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cycle-to-syracuse.
Source : HeraldScotland