A LARGS chaplain who witnessed the horrors of the Lockerbie bombing says he believes the tragedy was God preparing him for life as a minister.

Pastor Gordon Weir, 51, told the News how he is still haunted by the horrific scenes in the town straight after the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

He was living in Dumfries and working as clerk for the health service, delivering equipment and ensuring the region's hospitals and GP's were well stocked.

Gordon, of Brisbane Evangelical Church, said: "The night it happened I had just got home from work when the phone rang.

"It was my boss telling me he had called me a taxi and I had to get back in to work. I thought he was joking, but right enough there was a taxi outside my door.

"I got the story on the way in, that a jet had fallen from the sky and crashed in Lockerbie and that we had to set the hospital up for any emergencies coming in.

"Five people came in who had been on the ground and been hit with flying debris and we helped them. We were waiting for people from the plane, but as the night went on it became clear that there wasn't going to be any survivors.

"The next day myself and another worker were asked to take x-ray equipment to Lockerbie.

"They were going to use it to identify bodies in the wreckage.

"I will never forget driving in to the site, with the police combing the fields for bodies while in the main street it was packed with camera crews from across the world. Within 12 hours the whole world had arrived in the little town.

"I will never forget it. I saw some horrific things, there were still bodies lying and police were still trying to identify them.

"I think in a weird way, although I didn't know it at the time, seeing those people dealing with real trauma, was God preparing me.

"It increased my empathy for what I do now and getting beside people on a one to one basis. I think it was God's way of training me and giving me skills for what was to come later in my life."

Following 11 years in the health service, Gordon studied youth ministry and theology in Manchester for two years.

It was after a stint in Leven and North east England that he moved to Largs.

Fondly remembering his first service in the town seven years ago, he says it was 'unlike anywhere he had been'.

He said: "The very first Sunday was the Viking Festival and I remember there was a guy dress in full viking regalia sitting in the congregation.

"It certainly took me by surprise until I learned of the festival and that one of the church goers was part of the reenactment!

"The people here are so friendly and I never tire of the view.

"I love coming back from being down south and seeing the view along the coast and I just think 'what a great place to live'.

"I like being in a small town and feeling like you can really know people."

The father-of-three says that it is important to him that the church is seen to be part of the community.

With a congregation of over 100, Gordon says that he is keen to get even more people on board.

He added: "We want people to understand a church is not just four walls, it's the people.

"We are by no means full and there are still seats to be filled.

"The church has to be able to finf a way that it can be engaging and relevant to the young people.

"I reject the notion that children are the church of tomorrow, but I think that it is important that all ages are the church of today.

"We are starting to see young families come back and that is encouraging.

"I would say that the one common thread is that faith offers human connection, fellowship and friendship which is a massive part of people coming along."

The Brisbane Evangelical Church ensures it is part of the community by holding befriending groups, toddler groups and other community sessions in their church hall.