AS the father of Lockerbie victim Flora Swire, he sadly knows only to well how important having a place to mourn a loved one can be.

Dr Jim Swire and his wife Jane lost their daughter on the night flight Pan Am 103 was blown out of the sky over the small Dumfriesshire town.

And a memorial was later created in Dryfesdale Cemetery following the tragic events of December 21, 1988 which saw 259 passengers and cabin crew lost their lives and 11 people from the town also died.

When he read of our plans, Dr Swire contacted The Herald to offer his backing to our campaign to create a memorial cairn with the name of every Scot who has died from coronavirus.

In just over a week we have been offered a site at Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park by city council chiefs Council Leader Susan Aitken and Lord Provost Phil Braat.

Read more: Herald campaign: Memorial garden for Scots coronavirus victims takes step forward with offer of site at city park

We have also received a pledge of £5000 from the workforce of Hillington-based HCS Mechanical and Electrical. They were inspired to help following the death of Glasgow trucker Jim Russell, 51, whose close friend Mark Lammey is a director at the firm.

Dr Swire said: “Many a time, on our way north to Skye my wife Jane and I have visited Dryfesdale cemetery and seen again the name of our dear daughter Flora on the Pan Am 103 memorial there.

“I would like to thank all those involved in the maintenance of that memorial and for the sympathetic and caring response we have always found in the town whenever anniversaries and other occasions have reminded us all of that awful night in December 1988.

“I cannot speak for others but I would personally warmly support the creation of a memorial cairn for the relatives of the virus victims in Scotland now.”

Our idea is to build a memorial garden where people can go to remember loved ones with the focal point being a cairn. It was something which Glasgow minister Rev Neil Galbraith created in Cathcart Old Parish Church, in the south side, for bereaved families. Mr Galbraith is also backing our campaign and said a cairn is a great symbol of Scotland.

Read more: Union backs memorial campaign as workers give £5,000

The Swire’s holiday home in Skye is somewhere they still like to travel to, outwith current restrictions, and is a place where Flora visited as a child.

Dr Swire added: “How true that cairns seem to be native to Scotland. I remember once when trekking round from Sligachan to Loch Coruisk on a beautiful summer day in Skye with our other daughter Cathy, we were diverted onto a slight detour to a cairn just off the track to the loch itself.

“On reading the inscription we found that the cairn was to commemorate a fellow hiker who had died on that trek.

“Plucking up our courage and encouraged by our dog we decided to continue on our walk through the heather and made it safely home again, soaked only in the beauty of the loch.”

Flora was born on December 22, 1964, near their Gloucestershire family home. She was named after her paternal ancestor Flora MacDonald, who famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Skye following the battle of Culloden.

She was training to be a neurosurgeon when she met young American doctor Hart Lidov. She began commuting regularly across the Atlantic to see him and, just before Christmas, decided on a whim to fly to New York so they could spend the holiday together.

As her sister Cathy dropped her at the airport, she was on top of the world, having just won a place to complete her training at Cambridge, her father's old university.

But just 38 minutes after her plane took off, a suitcase exploded in the hold. All on board died. Now her ashes are buried in the pretty churchyard of the ruined St John's Chapel in Caroy.

When the news first broke on television, the Swires tried to quell rising panic with a conviction that it couldn't be her plane - the timing didn't match the details she had given. But as they realised it had been delayed, the terrible truth hit.

Earlier this year the family of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person to be convicted and jailed for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, were told they can launch a posthumous appeal against his conviction, by Scotland's criminal appeals body has ruled.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has referred his case to the High Court, after ruling a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in the conviction.

The ruling paves the way for a posthumous appeal and is something which Dr Swire supported. Dr Swire has long believed that Megrahi was wrongfully convicted of the bombing and that Libya was not behind the plot.

The court ruled the review of Megrahi’s conviction met two statutory tests for referral – it may have been a miscarriage of justice and it is in the interests of justice to refer it back to the court.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Megrahi was the only person convicted of the bombing, having been found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years.

Megrahi died aged 60 in 2012, still protesting his innocence.

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