Ballygawley solider wants to meet girl who helped save him

The Ballygawley Bus Bomb where 8 soldiers were killed by the IRA.
The Ballygawley Bus Bomb where 8 soldiers were killed by the IRA.

A former solider who was injured in the Ballygawley coach bomb in August 1988 is trying to track down a young bandswoman from Derry who saved his life.

Members of the Star of the Valley Band were travelling home from Portadown in coaches behind the unmarked bus carrying the soldiers when the Ballygawley bomb went off in August 1988, killing eight.

James Leatherbarrow now wants to find a young bandswoman who saved his life.

Mr Leatherbarrow praised a 12 years-old girl from the band who nursed him with his head on her lap as he lay seriously injured.

“She kept me alive,” he said. “I don’t remember too much after the explosion, I was lying trapped under the bus. All I can remember are people lifting the bus up and dragging me out. I had died on the roadside but this young girl put my head on her lap and somehow kept me alive.

“I didn’t find out until after that two buses were travelling behind us with the band members. There were a lot of younger children, around 11 and 12 years old, giving us first aid. They were told to stay on the bus but came out to try and help us.”

The former soldier has met several members of the band but has never found the girl who nursed him. “It’d be really lovely to meet her again and thank her for saving my life,” he said.