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Lockerbie’s new legacy

Section:  Lockerbie and Lochmaben  | Tags: ,

THE 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie Air Disaster later this year will not pass by unmarked, with plans revealed for a new legacy.

From next month a team of cyclists will be taking part in a 3238 mile long charity challenge, riding from Annandale to Syracuse in America, as a tribute to all who died in the 1988 bombing.

And the money they raise will be used to employ a dedicated counsellor and mental health worker for young people aged between 12 to 25 and living locally – a first for the town.

The cycling team is made up of four emergency service workers, who were some of the first on the scene during the aftermath of the Pan Am attack: police officer Colin Dorrance, fire officer Paul Rae, paramedic David Walpole and RAF officer David Whalley

They will be joined by rector Brian Asher – who has recently become the first ever head of the newly created 2-18 Lockerbie school campus, where the counsellor will be based.

The quintet hope to raise thousands towards the appointment of a mental health support worker, who will be provided by Soul Soup, a Dumfries based service that offers counselling and support for young people.

Linda McLachlan, managing director of Soul Soup, said: “Soul Soup feel extremely privileged to be working with Lockerbie Academy in providing a safe place for young people to explore life challenges and emotional wellbeing.

“It seems particularly poignant that many of the Pan Am plane passengers were young people with their lives in front of them and we hope that this partnership will help honour the memory of the air disaster and work towards putting in place a positive mental health resource for young people in the Lockerbie area.”

Championing the work of counsellors, Mr Asher said: “My colleagues in Dumfries speak very highly of Soul Soup. Neighbours and friends whose children have accessed Soul Soup services can tell me that it has been invaluable to them.

“Some of my pupils have identified Soul Soup as an organisation they wish to support and raise funds for since mental health, like physical health, is an issue that can affect all of us.

“None of today’s school children were born in 1988, nor were some of the staff, but I am “looking forward” to today’s and tomorrow’s generation.

“The Lockerbie Syracuse Scholarship is a tremendous positive that has influenced many over the past 30 years. I would like there to be a further legacy from this partnership that can benefit even more of our young people.”

And sharing his first hand experience of counselling, the headmaster added: “My daughter had a breakdown two years ago and was at the point of suicide.

“We managed to get her all the help available from CAMHS and found them to be very helpful. That said, it was also the constant availability and openness of youth work staff, who she already knew, that gave her the safe space and eventual confidence to move on and reach a more stable place in her own life. Soul Soup does exactly that.”

“Mental health is often referred to as the last taboo. I would like to help grow a generation of young people who will not say or think that because we will have mental health first aiders already trained in our staff and a Soul Soup counsellor available for anyone who needs it.”

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