Murray Pays Tribute To Dunblane

14 March 2016, 07:18 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Andy Murray has paid tribute to his hometown of Dunblane on the 20th anniversary of the shocking school shootings that killed 16 children and their teacher.

The children - aged just five and six - and teacher Gwen Mayor were murdered by gunman Thomas Hamilton when he opened fire on a gym class at Dunblane Primary School on March 13 1996.

The massacre in the Stirlingshire town shocked the nation and led to the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.

Andy and his brother Jamie were pupils in the school on the day of the shooting.

They rarely talk about the day and tennis star Andy told a documentary in 2013 that he found it difficult to relive the terrible events.

On Sunday, Andy, who is playing in a tournament in Indian Wells, California, posted a picture of the Dunblane coat of arms on his Facebook page.

He added a love heart and the message: "Always in my thoughts. Take you with me everywhere I go. Always my home.''

The Murray brothers have been praised for creating a positive story for Dunblane through their tennis success and Andy told the BBC documentary it is "nice that I have been able to do something that the town is proud of''.

Judy Murray changed her Twitter profile picture to snowdrop flowers - the symbol of the campaign that rose out of the massacre.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Dunblane - in our thoughts and in our hearts, today and always.''

No official events were held to mark the anniversary but tributes were paid during traditional Sunday church services in the town.

A minute's silence was held in memory of those who died before the 6 Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield, while there was a minute of applause from fans and players during the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden where Hibernian played Ross County.

Rev Colin Renwick, minister at Dunblane Cathedral, which contains a stone memorial to the victims and where a special remembrance service was held just months after the tragedy, led tributes in his Sunday sermon.

He said: "The tragic events of March 13 1996 will long be remembered in Dunblane and there has not been a day since when there has been no remembrance of those lost, injured, bereaved or traumatised.

"Since that day, people have appreciated the support and prayers of others throughout the world, but have also valued being allowed the space to grieve and rebuild with privacy and dignity, with as little media scrutiny as possible.''

Monsignor Basil O'Sullivan also marked the anniversary in the Holy Family church in Dunblane.

He was parish priest at the time of the tragedy, and said: "We pray for the injured, we pray for the bereaved and those who still suffer every day.''

Some of the survivors and relatives have been reflecting over the last week on the impact of the shootings on their lives and on the country as a whole.

Mick North, whose five-year-old daughter Sophie was killed, said the positive legacy should not be forgotten - that people are safer from gun crime than they were 20 years ago.

He said: ''In many respects, the day of the forthcoming anniversary won't be especially different - any day from the last 20 years was one for memories."