'We knew nothing, only that there was a gunman at school'

On the eve of another Wimbledon, Judy Murray recalls her fear on hearing about the Dunblane killer

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The Independent Online

When Andy Murray walks on to Centre Court to begin his defence of the Wimbledon title tomorrow, his mother Judy admits she will be feeling a “mixture of a heart attack and severe nausea”.

But the stress she endures watching her sons Andy and Jamie play tennis is nothing to the trauma she went through on 13 March 1996, when she feared they had been killed in the Dunblane school massacre, a subject she rarely discusses.

But today, on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Ms Murray tells Kirsty Young of the moment when she heard that a gunman had gone on a killing spree at Dunblane Primary School where her sons, then aged eight and 10, were pupils.

Thomas Hamilton, 43, shot dead 16 children aged five and six, and their teacher, wounding another dozen children and two teachers before killing himself. Ms Murray ran a toyshop in the town at the time, and recalled her mother running in to tell her there had been a shooting at the school. “I picked up my car keys and just ran out the shop,” but she got stuck in traffic. “I remember swearing, absolutely swearing at the top of my voice ‘get out of my xxx way’ and eventually I abandoned my car and ran to the school.”

She had to endure an agonising wait not knowing whether her sons were alive or dead. It was “many, many hours later ... before we discovered what had actually happened and which class had been affected, so those four or five hours waiting to find out were terrifying because you didn’t know if you were ever going to see your children again.”

Ms Murray added: “The other thing that I remember so clearly that day was that when it was my turn to go and get Andy and Jamie out all that they knew was there had been a man in the school who had a gun and they didn’t know anything else. They had been in their classrooms, they had been fed in the classrooms, and I had to stop the car and explain what had happened ... Jamie and Andy were very, very quiet. Andy asked some questions. Jamie to this day never speaks about it.”

Ms Murray said she thought her sons’ achievements had helped the town to move on.  “I think that what’s happened with Andy and Jamie in the tennis world has brought so much excitement into the town that it’s really helped.”

Mauresmo: Andy’s joy

Andy Murray’s attempt to retain his Wimbledon title is being guided by his new coach, former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Amélie Mauresmo, who hopes to help Murray with his “emotions and sensitive things”.

The Frenchwoman, 34, speaking at the Hurlingham Club, west London, last week, said: “I think the pressure is less important, now that he’s won ... Of course there is the goal [of winning again] ... But I feel first of all it’s joy and being so proud to be there to defend the title.”