THE last of Lockerbie’s original £2.4 million air disaster fund will be spent on a final legacy project — McJerrow Park.
The Lockerbie Trust, created from air disaster donations in 1991, is set to be wound up – but not before investing their remaining assets in a fitting final project.
Members of the trust agreed at their last meeting to close down the group and spend their approximate £690,000 funds.
They had originally planned to donate £500,000 of it towards the Lockerbie Swimming Pool project, but now the pool plans have folded, they have instead turned their attention to McJerrow Park.
Speaking yesterday, trustee David Mundell MP said: “We held on to a lot of money in the hopes that it would go towards a swimming pool for Lockerbie but now that the pool trust is no more, members of the Lockerbie Trust decided that the money should be put towards a substantial project.
“McJerrow Park was suggested as the new significant project, the park is in need of an upgrade and it’s a place for the whole town – young or old.”
They hope the half a million pound boost will transform the park, along with the £125,000 already pledged by Dumfries and Galloway Council for new play equipment.
And a memorial cairn is one of the proposals being mooted.
The news of the trust’s plans to wind up was revealed at Lockerbie Community Council on Tuesday by Annandale North Councillor Gail Macgregor, who is keen to ensure the remaining balance is put to good use and spent on a project or projects that have the community’s backing.
She said: “The trust at present has £690,000 invested, that figure can fluctuate up or down. We need to make sure that the remaining money is utilised well. I think five people — the trustees — trying to make decisions for an entire town is a difficult task.
“Strictly speaking the trustees do not have to consult, we could just spend the money and that would be wrong.”
Cllr Macgregor noted they
have set a time frame of a year for winding up the trust and delivering the park project.
Fellow Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson is also keen to push for public consultation to make sure townsfolk are happy.
Meanwhile, community councillors welcomed the plan and were buzzing with ideas, suggesting the money could used to build a band stand/stage area in the park, create a zipslide for older children and help fund new toilets.
Where did the Lockerbie Trust begin?
FOLLOWING the horrific events of December 21 1988, families, individuals and organisations across the world wanted to stand with Lockerbie and donate to a fund to help victims.
The Lockerbie Air Disaster Fund was created and received donations totalling £2.4 million.
The Bank of England’s Inflation calculator reveals that that £2.4 million in 1991, would be equal to £5 million in present day.
At the time, the fund committee said they would use the money to ‘provide support and assistance in a wide variety of ways to those affected in the disaster’.
That fund was closed in 1991 and the remaining assets of £235,000 were transferred to the newly created Lockerbie Trust.
However, it proved controversial as its sole aim has always been to provide financial assistance to individuals, groups, clubs and societies within Lockerbie – but some victims’ families claim they have been excluded from it.
In fact, in the 1990s a delegate from the American Families of Pan Am 103 group arrived in town to try and convince trustees to use 70 per cent of the cash to pay for victims’ children’s education and donate a further ten per cent to an Aviation Security Improvement foundation. But their suggestion was ignored and the delegate never met with the group.
Meanwhile, the original £235,000 has been invested over the years and further donations have been added to the Lockerbie Trust pot.
In recent years the trust have donated smaller sums of money to local groups, up to £15,000 annually.
Last year they had outgoings of around £10,000 but made over £20,000 in investments.