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Honours for local heroes of Lockerbie




THE HEROES of the Lockerbie disaster -- the rescue workers and hospital staff who faced the harrowing ordeal of identifying the victims, and the local people rebuilding their shattered community -- have been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

In one of the highest number of awards to people connected with a single event, 22 people involved in the aftermath of the PanAm Jumbo jet explosion have been given recognition of their work.

Other honours include a knighthood for former Liberal leader David Steel. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse is among three new life peers and, from the world of sport, there are honours for former Olympic athlete Sebastian Coe, British Lions captain Finlay Calder, England football captain Bryan Robson, former Ryder Cup golf captain Tony Jacklin, and boxer Frank Bruno.

In the arts, actress Maggie Smith becomes a Dame and Michael Gambon is made CBE. Writer V.S. Naipaul receives a knighthood.

The Lockerbie honours range from Mr John Boyd, who was chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway at the time of the disaster, who becomes a CBE to Miss Eleanor Wilson, a council catering officer who helped feed the 1000 rescue workers, who is made an OBE.

The awards go to people at the sharp end of the Lockerbie disaster, many of whom worked tirelessly for days on end trying to cope with the magnitude of the destruction and death.

Some are still dealing with the effects even though it is just over a year since the jet was blasted apart by a terrorist bomb above the Scottish town.

The local police inspector George Stobbs, for example, who is awarded the Queen's Police Medal, is still having to comfort and explain what happened that night to grieving relatives from America who arrive in the town.

He helps ease their pain as they seek loved ones' property and information about where bodies had been found.

''He is the epitome of what a Scottish policeman should be,'' said one fellow officer yesterday.

On the night of the air disaster in December last year George used his local knowledge to help to direct the rescue and search teams.

Since then he has made a significant contribution to bringing back a sense of normality and confidence to the town.

''I'm greatly humbled to think this award has come to me,'' he said. ''It has really been a team effort and I'm greatly honoured to be singled out.''

In all, people associated with Lockerbie have received two CBEs, three OBEs, eight MBEs, six BEMs, two Queen's Police Medals, and a Queen's Fire Service Medal.

Three of the awards go to staff at Dumfries Royal Infirmary who led the teams of pathologists, radiographers, and mortuary personnel who faced the horror of trying to identify the victims as their shattered bodies were brought in by rescue workers.

Jordanian Dr Awni Lutfy, who led the pathology team, is made an OBE. He worked long hours for days carrying out post mortem examinations on the victims.

Also made an OBE is Miss Fiona Gillespie, the area radiographer, who arranged the work for volunteer radiographers from throughout Scotland who took the thousands of X-rays required to help establish the identity of victims and to help the police establish exactly what happened on the plane.

Such was the harrowing nature of the work that a number of the staff had to receive counselling to help them return to normality.

A British Empire Medal goes to Mr John Little, a mortuary technician, who worked with the pathology and radiography teams and on the delicate work of preparing bodies, where possible, for identification by relatives.

A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Health Board said they were pleased that the work of their three staff had been recognised, and added that all three would see the awards as being recognition of the work of their teams rather than simply that of individuals.

The tremendous help given by members of voluntary organisations is also recognised.

Mr Alexander Anderson, co-ordinator of Dumfries and Galloway Raynet is made an MBE. Volunteers from Raynet helped rescue workers by setting up a communications system after local telephone lines were knocked out, and the Cellnet system could not cope with the sheer volume of calls.

Mr William Parr, MBE, secretary of the Dumfriesshire branch of the search and rescue dogs association, arranged for his members to help find bodies thrown by the blast across a wide area.

Also honoured as MBEs are Mr Alastair Cameron, director of the Dumfriesshire branch of the British Red Cross Society and Mrs Lillian Dent, regional emergency services co-ordinator of the WRVS, with a BEM going to Major Derek Elvin of the Salvation Army. Their organisation's members were soon on the scene to help local people made homeless by the disaster and to help the work of the rescue services.

The people of Lockerbie themselves are not forgotten. Mrs Carra Brown and Mr Maxwell Kerr of the Lockerbie Community Liaison Steering Group which took on much of the work of bringing the town and its people back to normality are awarded BEMs, as is Mr George Johnstone, hallkeeper at Lockerbie Town Hall, which was used as a temporary mortuary, and Mr James Wilson, a local farmer whose land was scored by wreckage.

Mr Johnstone, aged 57, said yesterday: ''I just did whatever I was asked and went wherever I was sent. It certainly wasn't pleasant being in the hall when all the bodies were there. It will be a lasting memory for me.''

Mrs Brown, is a representative from the town's Sherwood Crescent where 11 local people died and 17 homes were destroyed.

The work done by local authority staff is also recognised in the awards. The second CBE is Mr Neil McIntosh, chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council who put into action the emergency planning and led the work of hundreds of council workers.

Mr McIntosh, who lives in Moffat, said yesterday: ''I hope my honour will be seen as a tribute to the whole regional council staff who did so much. We were put under tremendous pressure,

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working flat out, but the disaster brought out the very best of human qualities.''

He has since produced a detailed report which could form a blueprint for future disaster planning.

His fellow CBE, Mr John Boyd, is now Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland.

Ultimately responsible for the police action at Lockerbie, he laid down the operational policies which were effective in dovetailing the rescue operation and the detective work when it was soon realised that they were dealing with a terrorist attack.

At first there were fears voiced that the local force could not handle such an inquiry but these criticims have been silenced as the painstaking work of the Dumfries and Galloway force has gained much admiration in recent months.

Mr William Alexander, assistant chief executive of the regional council, who helped Mr McIntosh in co-ordinating the work of council workers, is made an OBE, as is Mr David Beveridge, deputy director of the Scottish Information Office who was at Lockerbie on the night of the disaster co-ordinating arrangements to deal with the massive international press corps which arrived.

Mr Donald Bogie, MBE, deputy director of environmental and leisure services at Annandale and Eskdale District Council, lives in Lockerbie and was quickly at the scene on the night. Later he helped set up the temorary mortuary as the first bodies were brought in.

The second Queen's Police Medal is awarded to Superintendent Angus Kennedy of Strathclyde Police who was responsible for relations between the media and police.

With his calm and professional manner he made a large contribution to the handling of the exceptional pressures from the world's press that night and throughout the physically and mentally testing first few weeks of the incident. Since then Superintendent Kennedy, who is in charge of Strathclyde's Force Information Department, has continued to maintain a close involvement with the criminal investigation.

The Queen's Fire Service Medal is awarded to Dumfries and Galloway's firemaster, Mr John Stiff, who commanded the fire fighting that night, particularly in Sherwood Crescent which bore the brunt of the damage.

Local social worker Mr Peter O'Mahony is also made an MBE for his work within the community, as is Miss Eleanor Wilson, who was in charge of 260 school meals staff who worked in shifts in local schools to provide 50,000 meals in 17 days for emergency workers.

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Honours List

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