Posted on 30 October 2018
Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, has travelled to New York to take part in events marking the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing and support a near 700-mile charity bike ride across the US as part of the commemorations.
On 21 December 1988, 259 passengers on board Pan Am Flight 103 from London Heathrow were killed by a terrorist bomb which detonated in the skies above Lockerbie. The aircraft wreckage crashing on the town killed 11 Lockerbie residents. Thirty years on, a group of five local men have cycled from Lockerbie to Syracuse to complete the journey on behalf of those who could not.
The five ‘Cycle to Syracuse’ riders represented Lockerbie Academy, Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. They all have strong links with the town and the bombing and their 672-mile Lockerbie – Syracuse journey remembers the 270 lives lost in the air and on the ground, the work of the emergency services, and the response of the townspeople in the aftermath.
The USA leg was the third and final stage of their journey. It started with visits to local schools around Lockerbie, and was followed by a mass cycle earlier which saw dozens of cyclists ride from Lockerbie to Edinburgh Castle where they were welcomed by Mr Mundell.
In the USA they cycled from the Lockerbie memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery, through Maryland, Philadelphia and New York City, and finished at Syracuse University in upstate New York. On their journey the cyclists carried a specially-crafted Shepherd’s Crook, sourced from wood in the Tundergarth area near Lockerbie, and a book of commemoration. Both were presented to the Chancellor and President of Syracuse University as gifts from the town of Lockerbie.
The cycle group, sponsored by ScottishPower, also raised money for local youth mental health charity Soul Soup, to employ a dedicated worker within Lockerbie Academy.
Mr Mundell also travelled to Syracuse University to meet staff and students and speak about the disaster and the strong links which have built up between Lockerbie and Syracuse in the years since. In a moving service Mr Mundell laid a wreath at the University’s wall of remembrance.
Since 1990, a ‘Syracuse Scholarship’ has allowed young people from Lockerbie Academy to study in the USA. Fifty eight students have now studied at Syracuse University, forging strong bonds and friendships between families on both sides of the Atlantic.