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Lockerbie Air Disaster . . . Ella’s tale

By Fiona Reid
Lockerbie Air Disaster . . . Ella's tale

EVERY living being inside Ella Ramsden’s household survived the 1988 bombing, a spectacular fact considering the mid-section of the plane fell from the sky onto her Park Place home. But fate was on Ella’s side that night and she, dog Cara, her budgie and even pet goldfish survived the awful terror attack. Ella went on to live for another 22 years, living her life to its fullest.

In her honour, daughters Kate and Louise have penned a special tribute.

“DECEMBER 21, the shortest day, always has a poignant and personal resonance for our family.

We grew up in Lockerbie and still have family there. At the time of the bombing of Pan Am 103, our mum, Ella Ramsden, lived in the house we grew up in in Park Place.

Mum died in 2010 but at her funeral we gave thanks that we had her for another 22 years. She could so easily have lost her life in the disaster that claimed the lives of so many.

Because it was our mum’s house that was hit by the mid-section of the plane as it plummeted from the sky. Over 50 bodies were recovered from our house and garden.

Our mum was in the house at the time. By whatever gods were looking out for her that night, she ran with her dog, Cara, to the kitchen – the only room in the house left intact following the impact. Although when the noise abated, and it became unnaturally quiet, mum looked up and saw the stars.

Mum and Cara, who she had kept in her arms throughout, survived. They were pulled out of the window in her kitchen door that she broke with a frying pan.

The next day the budgie was found fluttering about the ruins and the goldfish were still swimming in their rubble strewn tank. Everything that was alive in our house escaped.

But we were luckier even than that.

Our brother, his wife and their two boys aged ten-months and five-years had been visiting my mum and left only that morning. Indeed our whole family had been together in the house that previous weekend.

We remember mum telling us that the first time she shed a tear was when Louise took her up to see her house a few days later and she saw the shattered remains of the baby cot in the midst of the rubble – a distressing reminder of what could have been.

Mum went to live with our granny in Kintail Park and when a canteen was set up the next day in the old primary school, to feed the army of soldiers, police and others who gathered to deal with the aftermath of the disaster, she was amongst many who volunteered. She made soup and washed dishes, keen to do her bit for the community.

Mum was one of those people who always took the positives from things. She never felt a victim – quite the opposite – she saw herself as lucky.

“I only lost belongings,” she would say. “A house can be replaced. Loved ones can’t.”

She went on to live her life to the full, feeling that having been spared, it was the least she could do. Of course she had survivor’s guilt but she spoke about it and helped others with it.

Like many in Lockerbie, she became friends with many of the relatives of those who died in the disaster, particularly an American woman who had lost her husband, son and pregnant daughter.

We miss mum all the time but we are incredibly proud of her too. She embodies the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of such acts, and her ability to find compassion amidst such cruelty and to reach out to others, is uplifting and life affirming. That’s how we remember our mum.”



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