A message of hope and peace on Lockerbie air disaster anniversary

A “Walk of Peace” pilgrimage walk is being held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie air disaster.

Scores of people are expected to silently climb Burnswark, an ancient and dramatic landmark south east of the Dumfries and Galloway town, on December 22 to remember those who died.

They are encouraged to share ideas, memories and insights into the tragedy which claimed the lives of 270 people.

Lockerbie Memorial
Air disaster memorial within the Garden of Remembrance at Dryfesdale Lodge.

Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is taking part and said he hoped that a powerful message of peace and hope would be spread across the world.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded 31,000 feet over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.

A total of 259 people on board the New York-bound Boeing 747 – known as Clipper Maid of the Seas - were killed, along with 11 people on the ground.

Dr McDonald, who was Moderator in 2006-07 and has family links to the area, is also leading a special remembrance service at Tundergarth Parish Church on December 21.


The building, which has a Book of Remembrance, is close to where the nose cone of the Jumbo jet, blown up by a terrorist bomb, came to rest.

Dr McDonald said: “The people who have been organising this service, and the walk up a neighbouring hill the next day, wanted something that would focus on hope and the future.

“We have put together a service with the theme ‘The Pilgrimage to Peace’.

“Hopefully, it will link together with the physical pilgrimage that will take place the next day.

“We will seek hope and peace for all on December 21-22.”

Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald
Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald is leading a special remembrance service at Tundergarth Parish Church.

Scottish harpist Wendy Stewart is performing at the church service, which starts at 3pm.

Dr McDonald, who moved to Cromarty on the Black Isle after retiring as the minister of St Leonard’s Parish Church in St Andrews, Fife in 2016, is standing in for the current Moderator, Rt Rev Susan Brown, who is unable to attend.

She laid flowers at the Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial, which lies within a Garden of Remembrance at Dryfesdale Lodge, during a recent visit to the town.


Rev Adam Dillon, Clerk to the Church of Scotland Presbytery of Annandale and Eskdale, said: “The horror of the night will live on in the memories of those who lived in Tundergarth and Lockerbie.

“This 30th anniversary gives the communities a chance to focus on looking forward - drawing on the resilience and temerity that has been required of them since 1988.

“My thoughts and prayers remain with all affected.”

Dr Jan Hogarth, one of the organisers of the pilgrimage walk to Burnswark which overlooks the area where Pan Am Flight 103 came down, said she is “delighted” that Dr McDonald is leading the service.

“I hope he can help shift people’s perspective from an area associated with a tragedy to a special spiritual landscape with a courageous community, who held this tragedy with love, compassion and kindness,” she added.

“Thirty years on, you would hope humanity would be working towards achieving peace on earth.

“We don’t have time to look backwards, we must work together to achieve this ambition.”

Libyan Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was the only person to be convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103.

He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment but was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds.

Megrahi died at his home in Tripoli in 2012 aged 60.