‘We loved Lesley ... you wonder what she would be like now?’

Lesley Gordon, 11, who died in 1978 outside her Maghera home, along with her father William, a part-time UDR member. The IRA had planted a bomb under the family car which was triggered when he was taking her to school.
Lesley Gordon, 11, who died in 1978 outside her Maghera home, along with her father William, a part-time UDR member. The IRA had planted a bomb under the family car which was triggered when he was taking her to school.

All this week, the News Letter is carrying stories of children who were killed in the Troubles. On Sunday a memorial quilt will be unveiled in their memory. Today Philip Bradfield reports on the story of a father and daughter killed on the daily school run.

An 11-year-old Maghera girl who was killed by an IRA bomb under her family car is to be remembered on a memorial quilt for children of the Troubles this weekend.

William Gordon who died in 1978 outside his Maghera home, along with his daughter Lesley, aged 11. The IRA had planted a bomb under the family car which was triggered when the part-time UDR member was taking her to school.

William Gordon who died in 1978 outside his Maghera home, along with his daughter Lesley, aged 11. The IRA had planted a bomb under the family car which was triggered when the part-time UDR member was taking her to school.

Lesley Gordon had just climbed into her father’s Ford Escort along with her seven-year-old brother on February 8 1978. Their father, William, had checked under the car and was taking them to school when an IRA bomb hidden in a cavity in the car exploded, killing them instantly and injuring his young son.

This Sunday Lesley’s mother Georgie will travel to Fivemiletown Methodist Church for South East Fermanagh Foundation’s (SEFF) annual service, the theme of which this year is ‘Children of the Troubles’. A new memorial quilt will be dedicated, featuring a patch in memory of Lesley and her father.

“We do talk about her very much,” Georgie said of Lesley. “I look at the photographs and she is sitting with her arms so protectively around the young one [her younger sister] who was just four.

“She was a very quiet child for a long time and she was just beginning to develop and come out of herself. She was really lovely. I suppose every mother thinks that, but I thought she was gentle.

“She was just an ordinary child – but very special to us.

“She was pleasant and she always tried to help, especially with her younger sister and brother. There was the usual – nobody is perfect, we are not talking angels here – but she was a child that was easily worked with.”

One of her teachers wrote a poem paying tribute to Lesley after her death, focusing on “the gentle smile she had”.

“She did all her work and she loved her school.”

Her daughter also loved dancing to her favourite band – Showaddywaddy.

Georgie still reflects on treasured memories of her husband and Lesley with the rest of the family.

“William was a good man. He was a good father and a good husband.”

Only recently did she discover the concept of a memorial quilt being created to remember loved ones killed during the Troubles.

She was given an invite to see special patches in Lesley and William’s memory to be unveiled this Sunday.

“And I said ‘that sounds absolutely lovely’. I had never heard of that before. It was so different and everyone has their own special patch.”

She met up with the volunteers behind the project and told them their stories to help with the design.

She added: “We loved her. You just often wonder what she would have been like now. Would she have her own family or – you know those things that go through your head?

“You don’t talk as much to people as time goes on because everybody has their own heartaches. But I can remember her so well and I can remember the things she did. And somehow or another it seems she is always there – but she is not there.”