Britain silent in tribute to the children of Dunblane

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The Independent Online
MUCH of Britain was due to fall silent at 9.30 this morning, in a nationwide demonstration of the inadequacy of words to express grief for the murdered children of Dunblane.

All major TV and radio broadcasters were observing the minute's silence ; BBC and ITV co-ordinated their schedules to do so. Channel 4 confirmed it would observe the silence along with Sky Television, and the national news agency, the Press Association, was making a pause in its Mothering Sunday service.

The silence, suggested by the Prime Minister, has received massive backing over the the last two days, and is likely to be officially observed even more widely than the traditional minute on Armistice Sunday in November. Supermarkets, burger bars and railway stations will also come to a halt at 9.30am as staff and customers remember the victims of the primary-school massacre.

Railtrack is also planning to observe the minute's silence at 14 major stations around Britain. At 9.30 this morning the public address systems will be mute at all the major London ter- mini plus Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly and stations in Edinburgh, Leeds and Glasgow.

ScotRail will make an announcement at its 320 stations asking for silence at the same time and there will be similar calls at Heathrow and Gatwick airports near London.

Sainsbury's said it would be observing a 9.30am silence at all its 200- plus supermarkets which open on Sunday - 30 minutes before customers are let in. The Asda chain said it would also comply after being flooded with requests from customers, while major retail outlets such as Marks & Spencer, MFI, McDonalds and Safeway will also fall silent. No national lottery tickets will be sold during the minute's silence.

Thousands of Scottish Christians have been called to unite for two minutes of silent prayer at 11.30am tomorrow.

Church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said the tribute, followed by church attendance, is a fitting way to take part.

Roman Catholic leaders Cardinal Basil Hume and Cardinal Basil Winning said prayers were more appropriate than silence.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is quoted as saying: "I believe strongly in the power of prayer. This was a terrible tragedy and we will be joining in the prayers."

In London there is to be a special `Memorial Gathering' at the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park with a minute's silence observed at 3pm.

The gathering, which has been given official backing by the park authorities, has not been organised by any church or religious group and has been promoted by Mrs Carey Kelting who describes herself as "an ordinary London mother".

"I feel very strongly about the tragedy in Dunblane and ever since Wednesday I've been expecting someone to announce a gathering for ordinary people to show their respect and express their grief. In the end it looked as though no one had thought to organise it, so I did it myself," said Mrs Kelting a mother of two from Clapham, South London.

"I've never done anything like this before but I'm delighted that the response has been so overwhelming. We are hoping that as many people as possible will come along and be silent together for a minute at 3pm and leave some flowers," she said.

In Scotland, a charitable fund has been set up to assist the bereaved and injured. The Dunblane Fund has been organised by three local councils plus the people of the town. Their spokesman said yesterday: "The trustees believe the fund will reflect the generous and widespread public reaction to this terrible disaster." Donations can be made at any branch of a UK clearing bank.

Meanwhile the Royal Mail has set up a free postal service to cope with the stream of sympathy messages being sent to the stricken community.

The address, `Freepost Dunblane', can be used by anyone wanting to send support to the town. The letters will be passed to Dunblane community leader, the Rev Maxwell Craig.

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