Remembering Pan Am Flight 103: The 'Laundry Ladies'

Elma Pringle, Josephine Donaldson, and Moira Shearer were among the many volunteers in Lockerbie who assisted in recovery efforts. The “laundry ladies,” as they became known, began to clean and carefully fold and package the recovered clothing of the victims so that the items could be returned to loved ones.

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Elma Pringle: I think it was just one of these things, wasn’t it? We never actually thought about it at the time. It was just, I think, everybody wanted to do something.

Josephine Donaldson: Yes exactly.

Pringle: And that was the thing. We were able to go and help in the laundry. But there was a lot of people—older people—that couldn't come and do that. But they baked. And they would turn up at the kitchens with sponge cakes and scones, just forever. It was just for something to do. You wanted to just do something—rather than just sit there—and help.

Moira Shearer: The school was inundated with everything. I think the shops were emptied of vegetables and what have you. But then the cakes and the scones started, and that was for the boys. They needed something like that to keep them going because they were only boys …

Pringle: They were only boys.

Shearer: … thrown into something horrific, and that’s it. There’s lots of people in Lockerbie that we’ll never know who were really kind and done a lot and never said a word about it.

Donaldson: I know, mom’s dead now, but she baked and baked—and she was a crackin’ baker.

Pringle: And sometimes when the boys came in from searching, they didn’t want a meal …

Donaldson: No—the sweet stuff.

Pringle: … they just wanted a few minutes to sit in the corner to think and maybe just have a wee cup of tea and a wee scone and a wee something, isn’t it? Fifteen minutes and then get their heads around it. Because they were seeing terrible things.

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