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Any of those 16 children could have been mine... I couldn't hold back my tears... TV PRESENTER REMEMBERS DUNBLANE 25YRS ON.

Byline: EAMONN HOLMES Who covered the tragedy for GMTV Breakfast

My eldest boy turned 32 this week. My daughter will be 30 in June. As I wrote my lad's birthday card I was all too aware there are 32 parents from Dunblane in Scotland, who had children of the same ages but won't get to celebrate them reaching the landmarks.

A twisted, disturbed man called Thomas Hamilton saw to that. A man who grew up without a father and believing his mother was his sister.

A man rejected by his community as weird and a suspected paedophile. A man who took his revenge by shooting 29 children aged five or six in Dunblane Primary School Gym, killing 16 of them and their teacher Gwen Mayor.

News of the Perthshire tragedy broke at around 11 o'clock on that Wednesday morning of March 13, 1996. I was in a meeting

M07 CXPTION WOB Dgdgd dgdgddgdgdgdlaying plans for the next day's GMTV Breakfast Show. Those of us gathered couldn't believe what we were hearing, especially since it wasn't coming out of the US.

It had all the hallmarks of one of those terrible American-style shootings where someone runs amok in a classroom. Now it had happened here.

Like firefighters, we knew we had to get there and those needed dashed for Heathrow Airport knowing the press corps would be heading north and there wouldn't be a seat to be had on any flight. When we got to DUNBLANE it was sadness on a scale I had never experienced before, nor do I ever wish to experience again.

Nothing prepared me for the stillness and quietness. On that terrible day ambulance chief John McEwan said: "What will stick with me for a long time is the look of terror on the face of a five-year-old child who had a bullet hole through the arm and couldn't comprehend what happened."

All around were people with their heads hanging. An eerie silence.

But work had to go on and we were there to do a job - to try and explain this story without sense.

This little community had been devastated by loner Hamilton, 43. It took just three minutes for him to kill those little children and their teacher.

Lynne McMaster was weeping and holding her five-year-old daughter Victoria's toy dog when she told the Mirror of the last time she'd seen her.

She revealed: "She'd said six byebyes to me as she went down the path waving, looking back and laughing. Now I'll never see her again. What am I going to do without her?"

I often asked myself, was Hamilton's anger directed at the children for what he didn't have or was it directed at the adults, the parents who had given them the life, love and affection he didn't have?

It didn't really matter. I knew I had an overwhelming sense of anger against him.

Typical of such people he had t a k e n the coward's way out by turning LUCKY stars Jamie his gun on himself. He wasn't going to be held accountable. He did what he did with four hand guns and left a legacy of sorrow, tears and questions.

That night we were summoned to the church hall where police were issuing photographs of the victims. They were no ordinary photographs, these were class group shots.

The sort of photos that document our lives, freeze us in time - except for these children there would be no subsequent ones.

These were the same sort of class photos I had just got from my youngsters' school.

As I looked at the faces of children smiling up at

ESCAPE Tennis & Andy Murray me, children who had now been murdered, I could easily have been looking at the faces of my own three.

way left of tears questions EAMONN ON KILLER

They were in the same age group, taught by the same sort of teachers. Everyone had a Miss Mayor. A professional who cared so much for those youngsters she put herself between Hamilton's bullets and their bodies.

If any of those parents loved their children the same as I loved mine, how could they ever get on with their lives again? I couldn't hold back tears.

I went outside struggling for breath. This wasn't just another news story. This was personal.

It continues to be personal because as I write this Declan is 32, Rebecca 30 and Niall 28. Similar age bands to what those 16 DUNBLANE children out & legacy and would have been now. I reflect on my children's lives and have to be thankful for all the things I have experienced with them which the DUNBLANE parents were robbed of.

HOLMES Hamilton

Many people aren't aware in the same school that day were a young Andy and Jamie Murray. The tennis stars got to live their lives and do extraordinary things, leaving the question "what if " for those that were slain.

Automatic hand guns and weapons were banned the following year as a result of what happened 25 years ago today. We had facilitated Hamilton in his day of evil.

The DUNBLANE children are special but because of them my own children will always be extra special to me.

features@mirror.co.uk @DAILY MIRROR

All around were people with heads hanging. An eerie silence EAMONN HOLMES ON SCENE AT DUNBLANE He took the coward's way out & left legacy of tears and questions EAMONN HOLMES ON KILLER Hamilton

CAPTION(S):

LUCKY ESCAPE Tennis stars Jamie & Andy Murray

LOST LIVES Tragic class and teacher Gwen Mayor
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Author:EAMONN HOLMES Who covered the tragedy for GMTV Breakfast
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 13, 2021
Words:923
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