Dunblane teacher was scared of killer two decades before massacre


By Rory Reynolds

A TEACHER who survived the Dunblane massacre has revealed she was scared by killer Thomas Hamilton when she met him two decades before the tragedy.

Eileen Harrild, who was hit in the chest and arms during the 1996 school shooting, said she had an “uncomfortable feeling” when she met the former Scout leader in the late 1970s.

Speaking on Radio 4’s The Reunion programme yesterday Eileen said that the deranged loner, who killed 16 pupils and their teacher Mrs Gwen Mayor at Dunblane primary school, left her with “bad vibes” after a chance encounter.

She said: “I met him once at Dunblane high school. All I recall was getting bad vibes.

“I just had an uncomfortable feeling and that’s all I can put it down to.

“I didn’t recognise him [when Hamilton entered the school’s gymnasium and began firing] because he looked totally different. He had on a woolly hat and earmuffs.


“After the event I searched my memory and looked back to that.”

Eileen underwent emergency surgery after being shot in her right forearm, right hand, left forearm and left breast, with doctors managing to save the arm they originally feared she would lose.

She said: “When I woke up that evening the first thing I said to my husband was, ‘did they get the b******?’ I just had to know that the perpetrator was dead.”

Eileen said that she was outraged when she found out that Hamilton had been given a licence to own guns.

The enquiry that followed the Dunblane massacre, led by Lord Cullen, heard that several police forces and local authorities had raised concerns over Hamilton’s behaviour towards children.

She said: “What really incensed me was that, until he came into the gymnasium and took his first shot at me, everything he had was legal.


“This should never have been able to happen.”

Eileen, a physical education teacher, was with her 33 pupils in the school gym when Hamilton entered carrying four handguns and 700 rounds of ammunition.

She raised her hands to protect herself when he began shooting and was hit four times.

Despite being shot Eileen, and her classroom assistant Mary Blake, who was also hit, managed to drag some of the children into a store room during the spree, before Hamilton turned the gun on himself.

Eileen said: “He targeted the adults first. The children were running about and I think, having thought about it for a long time, that some thought it was a game.


“The children who survived are a real source of inspiration. I am so proud of them.”

Following the Dunblane massacre the Snowdrop Campaign led to the banning of private ownership of handguns in the UK.