Dunblane, Twenty Years On.

Dunblane SnowdropsI was 14 years old on 13th March 1996 and to my memory in English class when we were told there had been a shooting at a primary school in Scotland in a village I had not heard of. At 14 years old, I could never really comprehend what had happened. I watched the news reports and read the newspaper articles and I brought the charity single which made it to number one in the charts. I never even thought to try and grasp how those mothers felt the following weekend on Mother’s Day.

The trouble with motherhood is that it makes you so much more vulnerable to feelings you never knew you could have. Every week day I hug my daughter and kiss her goodbye as I drop her off at nursery. I say goodbye to her teachers whom I trust with her care. As I walk past the window I look in and watch her for a minute or two, running around with her friends, playing dress-up or showing her teachers the clothes  and shoes she chose to wear that day.

I still after three months of her starting there, get butterflies as I sit in the car outside the school gates waiting to collect her and I hope I will never take for granted hearing her name being called at home time and having her showering me with kisses as I struggle to help her with her coat.

My 14 year old heart went out to all those families who lost their loved one that day but 20 years on, my heart as a mother is breaking for those parents at the school waiting for six hours for news of their children’s welfare, and then coming to terms with the news and having to live with it afterwards.

Not only did they carry themselves with dignity, but it is with thanks to those grieving parents that our gun control is as stringent as it is, with no further school shootings. Their political campaign in the midst of their grief makes their achievements all the more commendable. The killer was known to the police and yet had done nothing against the law up to the point of opening the door to that gymnasium twenty years ago today.

They campaigned so that our children will not need to be identified by the name tags on their clothes or by school photographs. They campaigned so that we will always hear our children’s names being called at home time and so that we could always sneak glances in the window and watch our children play.

Evil entered the school grounds on that day but in the end love prevailed and twenty years on that is what we should remember. We should remember the beautiful children, their teacher Mrs. Mayor and the love that returned from that gymnasium.

For the Bairns of Dunblane.


 Opening image: www.dailyrecord.co.uk

My Lesson in Humility

I learnt a lesson yesterday.

A lesson in humility.

Walking around the fantastic Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park last night I could feel the cold penetrating my bones. Despite my two pairs of tights and socks underneath my boots, my feet soon felt like two blocks of ice and I was feeling a little hard done by.

It was only while I was on my way home that I learnt the lesson. Taking my usual route home, I walked by a homeless man asking for change and I am ashamed to say that I walked on, just as I have done every day. To be cliché, it was only last night that I truly saw him. Last night when I was on my way to my lovely warm home, when all this man’s belongings amounted to his sleeping bag.

Lying in bed, having lit my advent candle I thought about him. I wondered why God had given me a home and that man a sleeping bag. As different thoughts began swimming through my mind, I wondered whether he had been given that life to teach me the lesson in humility. I thought how unfair his life is to have been given that role. It is through my faith however that I believe in accordance with his own worth deemed by God, the man will be given multitudes of good fortune in his next life.

He is not the only teacher in life.

We all are.

I thought what  I could teach other people. In the five minutes I lay there, it was easy for me to consider the lesson in appreciation that I see myself teaching. A lesson in appreciating the people around you before it’s too late. Although I appreciated my father more than I think even he realised, I am constantly dwelling  on whether I could have appreciated him more, told him more often how much he meant to me. Everyday I wish I could just have one more day with him to tell him.

As I wrapped myself up in the warmth of my house, I thought of that man and I thanked God for the lesson he chose to give me. Preparing for work this morning, again swaddling myself in my multiple layers of clothing, I watched the news. A report of St. Nicholas, the ‘real Father Christmas’ came to my attention. St. Nicholas, a bishop of modern-day Turkey performed good deeds not only to those he knew but to complete strangers. In the spirit of Christmas, in thanksgiving, in humility and in memory of my paternal grandfather who always had pistachio nuts in his pockets for people he met, I WILL have spare change tonight.