Dunblane can “celebrate the vibrant community which has overcome such tragedy” 20 years on from the shocking school shooting that killed sixteen children and their teacher, a senior police officer believes.
The massacre in the Stirlingshire town shocked the nation and led to the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.
The young children and teacher Gwen Mayor were murdered by gunman Thomas Hamilton, who opened fire on a gym class at Dunblane Primary School on March 13 1996.
No official events are being held to mark the 20th anniversary but tributes are expected to be paid at traditional church services in the town on Sunday.
Before the formation of the single Police Scotland service, Central Scotland Police were responsible for the Stirlingshire area and dealt with the aftermath with help from resources from around the country.
Senior officers have paid tribute to the community.
Stirling local area commander Chief Inspector Paul Rollo said: “This terrible incident cast a shadow on the town and on Sunday we will join together in remembrance and to celebrate the vibrant community which has overcome such tragedy.
“Our local officers are embedded in the community and as always will offer support to the people of Dunblane this weekend and going forward.”
Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson added: “Much has changed in 20 years but the shock and sadness is still felt by people throughout Scotland and further afield, including police officers who served in Central Scotland Police and elsewhere at the time, and those who have joined the service since.
“We wish to extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those who died, and those involved in the tragic events of 1996 in Dunblane, at this time of remembrance.”
Survivors and relatives have also been reflecting on the impact of the shooting 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.
“The importance of the 20th anniversary is as an occasion when others can recall and reflect on a horrific event, and also a time when those too young to remember might learn about what happened and consider its significance.”
Alison Ross, sister of five-year-old victim Joanna Ross, wants people to see the positive life in Dunblane today.
She told a BBC Scotland documentary: “It needs to be remembered so that everyone’s aware that we are still here, we are still getting on with our lives and we didn’t just fade into the background either.
“We still had to power on and push on with our lives, and it’s important that everyone knows we’re doing it, and doing it well.”