25 years on, Scottish school massacre 'like yesterday' for father

Martyn Dunn's daughter Charlotte was one of 16 children killed by 43-year-old gunman Thomas Hamilton at her primary school in the town of Dunblane on the morning of March 13, 1996.

Grieving parents wait for news outside the Dunblane Primary School 13 March, after a lone gunman burst into the school and shot and killed 13 children and one adult before shooting himself. Picture: PA/AFP.

DUBLANE - A father whose five-year-old daughter died in Britain's worst mass-shooting will mark 25-years since he was "robbed" of her with a visit to her grave, saying the tragedy still feels "like yesterday".

Martyn Dunn's daughter Charlotte was one of 16 children killed by 43-year-old gunman Thomas Hamilton at her primary school in the town of Dunblane on the morning of March 13, 1996.

Dunn, 60, told AFP he most regretted not seeing his daughter Charlotte grow into an adult.

"One of the things that really affected me was I had been robbed of my daughter and I wouldn't be able to give my daughter away at a wedding to get married," he said from his home in Dunblane.

Sixteen children, all of them aged five and six, were killed with their teacher Gwen Mayor, who tried to protect them from Hamilton as he entered the school gym and opened fire with one of his multiple legally held guns.

Hamilton shot himself after the attack and died at the scene.

"It's like yesterday that we were told the news," Dunn said.

"We were the last two sets of parents to be told. It was myself and my wife and another couple who we hadn't met before then but we had met them while we were waiting. That was at half past three in the afternoon.

"The event happened at half past nine in the morning. We were at the school by 10 o'clock, so we sat literally for five and a half hours, waiting."

'WE CAN'T EVEN HUG ANYONE'

Dunn was one of the family members of the Dunblane victims involved in setting up the Snowdrop Petition, which helped bring about stricter gun controls in the UK.

Within months of the attack, more than 700,000 people had signed the petition and by the year after the shooting the UK had implemented some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

"We've made this country safer," Dunn said.

"No other children will be shot in school legally like Thomas Hamilton did to us. So that's the good part."

Charlotte, her classmates and Mayor are buried together at a cemetery in Dunblane.

Dunn and his wife will place flowers on all of their graves on Saturday morning as they do every year on March 13.

"So yes tomorrow is remembering the children, remembering Gwen and coping as best as we can," he said.

For the moment though, the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have limited what they can do to comfort each other.

"Sometime when all this breaks up we will all try to gather as families and give each other a hug because we can't even hug anyone at the moment, can we."

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