Cyclists on journey to remember Lockerbie bombing victims

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More than 100 people have cycled from Lockerbie to Edinburgh as part of a 3,238 mile journey to mark the approaching 30th anniversary of the bombing.

Pan Am flight 103 was on its way from London to New York when it exploded above Lockerbie on the evening of December 21 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

Thirty-five of them were students at Syracuse University in the US, who were travelling home for the Christmas holidays.

Three decades on from the tragedy the Cycle To Syracuse aims to complete the journey on behalf of those who could not.

The first stage of the journey involved local pupils riding exercise bikes or their own bike at school, while the second stage was the Lockerbie to Edinburgh bike ride.

In the third stage of the Lockerbie–Syracuse cycle a group of five local cyclists will travel on to the US to complete the Arlington to Syracuse leg of the journey.

The journey from Lockerbie Academy to Syracuse University, New York covers 3,238 miles, with the distance cycled totalling 672 miles.

Cyclists at Edinburgh Castle
Cyclists arriving at Edinburgh Castle after riding from Lockerbie (Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland/PA)

He said: “As we approach the 30th anniversary of the bombing, it is fitting that five local men are making the journey to Syracuse to remember those lost, and to raise money for a local youth mental health charity.

“I wish them good luck for their journey, and look forward to meeting them again in Syracuse for the University’s 30th service of remembrance.”

The five cyclists who will be travelling to the US include Colin Dorrance who was an 18-year-old off-duty police officer on the night of the bombing.

He saw the plane crash and was immediately recalled to duty.

David Whalley led the RAF search and rescue team on the night while Paul Rae was an 18-year-old Lockerbie resident in 1988 and volunteered to help search the hills that night.

The other two in the group are  David Walpole who was a bank manager in Dumfries in 1988 and is now a paramedic in the Lockerbie/Annan area and Brian Asher, the head teacher at Lockerbie Academy.

In the next stage of the journey, between October 26 and November 1, the five cyclists will cycle around 600 miles from the Lockerbie memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC to Syracuse University in upstate New York, via Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.

As well as remembering the 270 people who died the event is also raising money for Soul Soup, a local youth mental health charity.

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