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Lockerbie victims remembered – 30 years on from the terror attack that killed 270 people

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The Queen has sent “prayers and good wishes” to the people of Dumfriesshire as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster.

It was on the 21st December 1988 that a Pan Am jet travelling between London and New York was bombed out of the sky.

All 259 passengers and crew on board were killed when the aircraft exploded in the skies above Lockerbie. Eleven people were killed on the ground when the wreckage fell.

A service of commemoration and a wreath laying will take place in the town to mark the anniversary and remember the victims.

Bereaved relatives will be among those gathered in the town’s memorial garden at Dryfesdale Cemetery and a message from the Queen will be read by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire, in which she says: “Please convey my warm thanks to the people of Dumfriesshire for their kind message, sent on the occasion of their Remembrance Service to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, which is being held today.

“I send my prayers and good wishes to all those who will be marking this solemn anniversary.”

Scottish Secretary and local MP David Mundell will attend there service. Ahead of the anniversary, he said: “Lockerbie lost its anonymity that night. We went from a quiet small town to a centre of global attention in a few seconds.

“That was the scale of the challenge local people have faced, aside from the horrors of the air disaster itself. It has not been easy, nor have we been able to achieve the closure we would have wanted, even after 30 years.

“However, throughout, the people in Lockerbie have retained their dignity and stoicism, and offered friendship and support to those who lost loved ones.”

Olive Gordon was just 25 when she became one of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie disaster
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Olive Gordon was just 25 when she became one of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie disaster

Sky News spoke to Colin Gordon, who lost his older sister Olive on board Pan Am flight 103. It’s the first time he has spoken publicly about events 30 years ago.

His sister was 25 at the time and was raising a young daughter on the William Bonney estate in Clapham. She was travelling to New York on holiday to visit friends.

In a tragic twist of fate, she had actually been due to travel on an earlier flight and only boarded the doomed aircraft because she had been delayed.

Colin was working in a hotel in Jamaica when he heard the news.

Colin Gordon's sister Olive died on Pan Am flight 103
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Colin Gordon’s sister Olive died on Pan Am flight 103

“I was handed this note. I opened it and it had this really bizarre message. It said ‘come quickly, bring passport – death!'”

He said that when he realised what the note meant he felt “like someone had hit me with a sledgehammer”.

But he said that in the following years the hardest part to deal with was the effect on his and Olivia’s mother.

“I think that was the toughest thing,” he said. “Watching my mother go through what any parent would dread – burying their child. That was the toughest thing.”

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi arrives at Glasgow airport
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Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi died in 2012

The Lockerbie disaster remains Britain’s biggest terrorist atrocity. A bomb exploded in the luggage hold of Pan Am flight 103 at 7.03pm as it flew at 31,000 feet en route to New York’s JFK airport from London Heathrow.

The victims came from 21 countries – most were from the United States.

Only one man has ever been convicted of the bombing, Libyan national Abdel Basset ali-Mohmed al-Megrahi who died in 2012.

Some British relatives of Lockerbie victims believe that he was innocent and support continuing efforts to have his conviction overturned posthumously.

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