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Two teachers injured when Thomas Hamilton ran amok in Dunblane shared their painful memories with Radio 4 presenter James Naughtie on the Today programme. Eileen Harrild (far left) is a PE teacher at the school and Mary Blake a teaching assistant
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Eileen Harrild: Thursday's been a day we've been dreading. It's like one more hurdle we're going to have to go over and it's been almost building up and up since the turn of the New Year. We've had a lot of hurdles to cross this year and now that we're nearing the anniversary, I know it's going to be an extremely difficult day for everybody. You know, we are encouraged because of the amount of concern and love and warmth we've had from the whole community and from everybody.

James Naughtie: Mary, there must be a sense of impending relief that that moment will have passed.

Mary Blake: I think we will be pleased when we get 13 March, Thursday, over, and then, I think we'll try and focus on the future and just try to lead our lives as normally as we can.

James Naughtie: Eileen, have you found yourself more resilient than you had expected?

Eileen Harrild: I think we all have in a strange sort of way. It's amazing where you get the strength to come through something as horrendous as this. I mean, at the beginning of 1996 if anyone had said to myself or to Mary or to anybody who had been involved directly with this, what kind of year we were going to have, we would never have believed it ... I think everyone's shown great courage and strength and dignity.

Mary Blake I think it feels quite unreal. We talk about it and I feel it's as if it hasn't happened to us and it does surprise me sometimes, when we do talk about it and it's just, as I said, so unreal.

James Naughtie: You've both coped with it while you've been recovering from your injuries. What about the children who were nearby, who were aware of the horror of the event?

Eileen Harrild: Again, I think they individually coped very differently. My daughter was in a classroom very close to the gym and there was also a classroom, as you know, that the gunman fired upon. And I think some of these children are still having a very difficult time actually, and in their own way they are having to cope with it with the help of their parents and the school and so on. I think that's one of the things that's very important, that we mustn't forget the people who were injured and the long-term effect that that's going to have on them. Some of the children were very badly injured and they're going to have to live with this. It's also just hitting home now because at the time Mary and I and the surviving children were just so grateful to be here. Now we're thinking, and we're having to cope every day with the realities of that event, and the children in particular are going to have to cope with the reality of that for the rest of their lives - and that's difficult.

James Naughtie: One of the things that strikes me is that there must be a tension between sometimes wanting to simply avoid the subject and not talk about it, but on the other hand, never wanting to feel as if you're letting go of your feelings.

Mary Blake: Eileen and I, we talk often about what happened on the day - in fact, I think every time we meet. I've said before, I am very grateful that - I know this sounds dreadful - but that there was someone else there. I find it's very comforting to have Eileen, just to have a chat, and I know that she feels exactly the same ...

Eileen Harrild: Absolutely, it's very important, as Mary said. There's only two of us who actually knew, you know, what we experienced that morning, and even within the family as much as, you know, our families and the families of those directly involved try to understand, it's very comforting for both Mary and I because, you know, the two of us survived, and we know exactly what we were going through that morning.

James Naughtie: Sometimes the town must have been under almost intolerable pressure. I don't mean from the inquisitiveness of outsiders, but just internally; the strength of the feeling, the depth of the trauma.

Eileen Harrild: I think we all need to stand back from it for a little while, otherwise tensions can arise, and we don't want that sort of thing.

Mary Blake: I find it quite difficult going down to the village. You know, they ask how I am, how I'm feeling, and some days if you're having a really bad day you don't really want to say I'm feeling dreadful. You just say, "I'm fine", and really there are days when we're not fine.

James Naughtie: People talk about good coming from bad, meaning that we shouldn't forget about the bad, but there are things that you can look forward to. What do you hope for? What do you look forward to?

Eileen Harrild: I'm looking forward to trying to have some more normality in my life because he past year there has really not been normality. And to getting a physical as well as a spiritual and emotional recovery from this - it would be very helpful for us in Dunblane. And normality would return if we could feel that we had this [gun] ban, and that this sort of thing could never happen again. That was always the bottom line for us - that nothing like this could ever happen again with legal guns. I would like to see that we learn from this and we are more vigilant in what's happening to our children and what sort of toys they are playing with. You know, you wouldn't see a toy gun in Dunblane now, never. I think we have to be vigilant of what our children are watching on television, what kind of videos we are allowing the children to view, because they absorb the violence into their system. Mary and I know what it feels like when a bullet hits you, and it's not what they show on these screens.

James Naughtie: You've both talked about this anniversary as something that needs to be marked properly with dignity, but you've also talked about, in some sense, moving on after it is passed. How is it that you can start to keep the memory of the children with you, but at the same time somehow begin to distance yourself from the events of the past year?

Eileen Harrild: That's a very difficult question to answer. I think part of the way Mary and I coped was by distancing ourselves from it from the very beginning, because we couldn't take on just how awful it was anyway at the very beginning. The first anniversary, I think, is an extremely important landmark for everybody in the whole community of Dunblane. We're hoping that we'll be able to pick up the pieces of our lives, move forward, never forgetting.

James Naughtie: Do you want people to light candles on Thursday?

Mary Blake: Oh yes, I think that's very important. It'll be nice to know that everybody is thinking about us and the families.

Eileen Harrild: And the children, and that their light shines on and that although they are no longer here they are still loved and there's a little piece of them in all our hearts.

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