JUDY MURRAY believes Dunblane has recovered from the shootings that scarred the town 17 years ago.
Tennis coach Murray, 54, said she enjoyed an idyllic upbringing in the Perthshire town, and returned there to give children Jamie and Andy a similarly happy start in life.
She said the Dunblane massacre – in which gunman Thomas Hamilton murdered 16 pupils and their teacher in a rampage at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March, 1996 – was the one point in the boys’ childhood that was not as “normal or happy” as hers.
She said the community grew closer together after the tragedy, however, and the thousands of people who have since moved in to the picturesque town are not scarred by its “dark days”.
Ms Murray said: “When they weren’t outside with me or their dad, they grew up walking and playing outside with their granny and grandpa. It was all pretty basic, but it’s the stuff that a good childhood is made of.
“There was, of course, one point at which the boys’ childhood wasn’t as normal or as happy as mine.
“I can only speak on how I see the Dunblane tragedy, I’m not a spokesman for the town, but I think it definitely brought the town closer together in the immediate few years after the tragedy.
“The town has recovered really well, but in the last five or six years it has grown so much -- there’s now a primary school on either side of town – that it has almost outgrown its past.
“The community centre, built with the money that came into the town after the tragedy, is a constant reminder, but unlike when I was a girl and everybody knew everybody, the many new people in the town weren’t part of the community in those dark days and are thankfully not scarred by it.”
Wimbledon champion Andy was just eight years old when Hamilton, an unemployed former shopkeeper, walked in to the primary school gym and killed 16 children and a teacher.
The 26-year-old tennis star has said it had affected him deeply, but hoped his triumphs on the court had been a positive influence on Dunblane.
Ms Murray, writing in the December edition of Scottish Field, told how she loved growing up in Dunblane after moving to the town from Stirling at the age of five after her optician dad Roy – a former footballer with Hibernian and Stirling Albion –opened his own practice in the high street.
She initially attended Dunblane Primary, but revealed she will be “forever grateful” to her parents for sending her to fee-paying Morrison’s Academy in Crieff, because of the sporting opportunities she enjoyed.
She said: “I went to Dunblane Primary School until the end of Primary Four when my parents moved me to Morrison’s Academy in Crieff because there was no high school in Dunblane.
“I’ll be forever grateful, because it gave me so many great opportunities, especially in sport which was and is important to me. I did everything from netball, hockey, swimming and diving to tennis and badminton.
“The thing I loved about school sport was being part of a team: I still love the idea of team spirit, the motivation and sense of belonging you get from playing in a team, and the friends you make.”
Ms Murray left Dunblane for Edinburgh University aged 17 and worked in Glasgow and in Peterborough, but returned two weeks before Andy was born.