Gilly Fraser

Gilly Fraser

United Kingdom
About: Journalist
Bio: Gilly Fraser was working as a reporter for local news station ITV Border when the bomb exploded over Lockerbie. She was one of the first journalists to arrive on the scene and she shares her memories of the attack and the aftermath, from a media personnel point of view.

    Reporting on the Surreal

    The day of the attack

    12/21/1988

    Gilly Fraser had been working for local news broadcaster ITV Border since 1986, and was watching television at her home just outside of Carlisle on the night of the attack. 

    Gilly was supposed to be out partying with her colleagues, but she was feeling poorly and chose to stay home instead. As soon as news broke of a major incident in Lockerbie, she jumped into her car and headed north.

    The sheer scale of the disaster quickly became apparent, and Gilly recalls a scene of confusion across the town. But despite the horrors unfolding all around, she describes what felt like an eerie sense of calm.

    Gilly’s natural instincts, as a journalist, was to try and find answers as quickly as possible. But this was unlike any other story she had ever reported on.

    Communications between journalists, emergency services and the news broadcasters was limited due to the ongoing power and telephone outages. Gilly was determined to stick with the story as long as was required. 

    The days following the attack

    12/22/1988

    In order to cope with the devastating scenes that she was reporting on, Gilly focused on putting her own personal feelings to the back of her mind. By doing so, she felt able to remain professional without becoming overwhelmed with emotions.

    Media trust and intrusion

    12/24/1988-1/24/1989

    Having presented the local news for ITV Border for two years before the disaster happened, Gilly was a well-known and respected journalist in many households across Dumfries and Galloway.

    She believes the trust she had built with the local community secured her some of the first television interviews on the night of the bombing.

    Left: Gilly alongside her ITV Border camera production team in 1988. Right: At the time of the attack, Gilly had been an anchor for ITV Border for two years, and was a trusted and well-known face in the south of Scotland

    But Gilly recalls that asking residents to open up about the chaos that was unfolding around them, was the most challenging part of the job.

    It’s been widely reported that the residents of Lockerbie felt that the world’s media quickly became intrusive. 

    For Gilly, as a local journalist who had spent years building positive relationships with those in the town, it was difficult to witness.

    But it wasn’t long before Gilly found herself at the centre of some uncomfortable situations.

    The community that formed as a result of the attack

    12/28/1988

    A number of parliamentary figures and dignitaries from across the world visited Lockerbie in the aftermath. They were present at some of the funerals which were held for the victims. Hundreds of people from across the town turned out to pay their respects.

    On the night of the attack and the following days and weeks, the community in Lockerbie were widely praised for the empathy and kindness shown to both locals and strangers. It's something that Gilly witnessed first-hand.

    Lockerbie's recovery and resilience

    6/1/1989

    Due to the condemnation of some of the media, it took a while to rebuild relationships with the local community in Lockerbie- who had become wary of all journalists.

    But Gilly explains that time proved to be a healer.

    Gilly still lives in the south of Scotland and knows Lockerbie for the wonderful town it is today- not just the town that was at the centre of a terrorist attack. 

    She would like to encourage those who haven’t visited the town, to experience all it has to offer and the warm welcome that awaits visitors from all over the world.

     

    Gilly spent days reporting on the worst terrorist attack to ever take place on British soil. She witnessed horrors, death and destruction and interviewing countless people who were expressing their heartbreaking, raw emotions would take its toll on Gilly. 

    Gilly was never provided with any counselling in the days, weeks or years following the bombing, but admits that speaking about the events may have helped to process what she experienced.

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