Wounded teacher was inches from death

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The Independent Online
PETER VICTOR

and STEVE BOGGAN

One of the teachers wounded by Thomas Hamilton spoke of the attack from her hospital bed last night.

Mary Blake, a special needs assistant, described her horror when she found out how many children had died at the hands of the crazed gunman.

She was wounded in each leg and her head was grazed by a third bullet.

"I don't think I've come to terms with it yet but I'm feeling physically much, much better," she said in an interview with BBC Scotland.

Mrs Blake was not allowed to go into detail about the attack because of Scottish legal restraints imposed during a fatal accident inquiry, but she was able to talk about the aftermath.

"I didn't actually know how many children had died or that the other teacher had died so it has been quite horrendous. It will never be forgotten but I hope things will get back to normal in time. It will be very, very difficult but hopefully, in time."

Stories of individual tragedy continued to emerge yesterday from the horror of the massacre.

Trainee teacher Alison Curry was chatting outside the gates of the school after dropping off five-year-old Ryan when she heard gunshots. She dashed through the school and was one of the first to arrive at the scene of devastation in the gymnasium. She found her son, alive, lying among the dead and injured.

She was maintaining a bedside vigil yesterday at Glasgow's Yorkhill Hospital where her boy, Ryan, is critically ill with multiple wounds.

His condition is, however, said to be stable.

A neighbour of his mother's said: "We've only seen her briefly because she has been at Ryan's side nearly all the time. I don't know what she saw in that school but she's really shocked. She wasn't saying much and her thoughts were elsewhere."

Kath North, a pensioner who visited her granddaughter Sophie in Dunblane just days ago, returned home to Hertfordshire and then heard that the five-year-old had been one of the victims. Yesterday Mrs North, 75, was being comforted by her daughter in Middlesbrough.

Mrs North, of Hitchin, spent last week visiting Sophie and her father in Dunblane. Sophie's mother died from cancer two years ago.

A spokeswoman at the flats where Mrs North lives said yesterday she was not expected back for a a few days.

The elderly man who plays Santa Claus for the children of Dunblane said yesterday: "Christmas is never going to be the same in Dunblane."

Tom Allan, 65, of the Dunblane Community Council, told how last Christmas five-year-old Kevin Hasell, who died in the massacre, sat on his knee at a party at the Hillside Playgroup in Dunblane. "Kevin sticks in my mind in particular.

"I remember him because he went to the playgroup party for three Christmases on the trot. He was one of the shy ones and I used to make a particular effort to speak with him.

"I asked him what he would want for Christmas that year. He said, in a little voice: `Whatever you could manage please'."

Mr Allan said he also recalled another victim, five-year-old Victoria Clydesdale, because she had visited a charity grotto in the high street.

"She sat on my knee and I remember that she said to me she did not mind at all what she got as long as her brothers and sisters got all the presents they wanted . . .

"She was a beautiful little girl, a cheery little soul and very outgoing."

Mr Allan said he could not bear to think about next Christmas, but his Santa outfit would be waiting if he was called for.

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