son has a learning disability”
had been the case for many families before, these words were to determine
the future path of the Bruce family. The doctor had advised Mr and Mrs
Bruce not to hope for great things from their son, Jamie.
we do Jim?” Agnes pleaded with her husband, already picturing a bleak
future for her son.
Jamie was born just under a year ago there appeared to be no problems. He
seemed a normal, healthy baby. However, as the weeks passed, Jamie
wasn’t developing as he should and so they took him to the doctor.
and Mrs Bruce accepted the situation and although they loved Jamie and he
was well looked after they had no great expectations.
worked in a local supermarket while Jim had long service with GEC as an
electrical engineer. They lived in Leith, the east of Edinburgh meaning
their football allegiances lay with Hibernian. The Scottish singing duo
‘The Proclaimers’ were also Hibs fans, their song ‘Sunshine on
Leith’ an anthem played every home game at Easter Road.
a baby it was another Proclaimers song that got Jamie’s attention,
‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’ always had him going, his eyes
lighting up, his legs and arms moving along with the sound.
and a half years after Jamie was born he was presented with a little
brother, Donald. It had not been plain sailing even before Donald came
along. Jamie was a frustrated baby somehow aware that he was unable to do
things. Jamie communicated his frustration as most two-year olds might. In
this way he was no different.
situation was exacerbated after Donald came along, a bright baby quick in
his progress. It wasn’t long before Donald was ahead of Jamie with the
skills natural to a growing child. Life was proving difficult for Agnes
and Jim Bruce and even the Proclaimers couldn’t pacify Jamie all of the
did advance even if it was slow. He did walk, and talk although his
favourite question was “Why can Donald do that and I can’t?” It
was Donald who responded.
Jamie, keep trying and you’ll do it”.
their Mum and Dad had accepted the situation as it was, Donald did not and
Jamie was proving determined unwilling to accept his lot.
time moved on so did Jamie’s improvement helped by Donald. Jamie
attended mainstream school but he started two years later and was in the
same class as his brother.
of his perceived disability Jamie had to endure bullying at school. He
stood up to the bullies asking them to stop, although Donald went for the
direct physical approach, landing him in the headmaster’s office or more
than a few occasions. One boy in particular, Gary Thomson was persistent
with his taunts and Donald, equally persistent, eventually taught Gary
this was not good for his health.
don’t care what the school says” Donald maintained as yet another
letter came home. “If the teachers aren’t going to do something then I
Dad explained that his approach was perhaps not the best way to go about
things but underneath he was proud of his younger son sticking up for his
still got frustrated and if things got too much for him he ran. The more
upset he was the further he would run. Initially the family were worried
about this but Jamie always came back and always much calmer. They let him
he got older if Jamie got angry he ran, farther and farther. One night,
just short of his fifteenth birthday Jamie had been away for around an
hour but came back as usual, calm and collected.
did you run to tonight Jamie?” asked his dad
racecourse! That’s twelve miles there and back”.
when Jamie was not frustrated he ran. To school and back, errands for his
mother, whenever and wherever. Not only did running help Jamie when he was
angry but it stopped him getting there in the first place.
next day during a break at work Jamie’s dad was talking about his
the way from Leith to Musselburgh Race Course and back in around an
hour” Jim said “That’s just over twelve miles.”
some going if he ran that distance” responded Jeff, one of Jim’s
was an athletics coach with the local Harriers and was always going on
about the youngsters who were potential Olympic medal winners.
Would your son be interested in joining the Harriers?”
don’t know Jeff. Jamie can be quite a handful you know. He’s got a
disability and get really angry at times.”
if he was to come and watch. He can then make up his mind if he wants to
have a go.”
ask him and see what he thinks” said Jim as the men returned to their
was reluctant at first but after watching the Commonwealth Games on TV he
spoke with his dad.
is that running group dad?”
meet on a Tuesday and Thursday at Meadowbank Stadium son”
that a real running place?”
son, the Commonwealth games have been held there twice.”
seemed to do the trick and the following Tuesday Jamie and his dad went to
the Stadium to have a look. Donald was also there.
a big place” said Jamie as the athletes were going through their various
warm up routines.
Bruce’s watched for a while when suddenly Jamie stated he wanted to go
“We’ve not been here
long” queried Jamie’s Dad “Why do you want to go so soon?”
think I know” responded Donald.
dad, puzzled, looked at him and followed his stare at a tall gangly youth
who was jogging up and down the track.
Gary Thomson, the guy who used to bully Jamie until I finally convinced
him it was not a good idea.”
we go now?” pleaded Jamie “I’m not joining if he’s part of it”
following week Jamie and Donald were back this time with their training
kit. Donald had convinced Jamie that it was all a long time ago and Gary
Thomson wouldn’t even remember them. Jamie only agreed to go if his
brother was to join in.
Thomson wasn’t at the training session and Jamie seemed to enjoy
himself, Donald realising there was something where Jamie was better than
a much better runner than me Jamie” stated Donald as they made their way
worry Donald, keep trying and you’ll get better.”
following week Gary Thomson was at the training and as Donald said did not
notice them which surprised Donald as he had only told Jamie that without
really believing it.
coach decided to have a 3000 metres challenge for his distance runners.
Jamie and Donald lined up for the run as did Gary Thomson. Jamie was soon
in the leading pack with Donald some distance behind. Gary was also in
that group. Runners gradually dropped off the pace and into the final lap
Jamie was just behind Gary. In the final straight Jamie was catching but
Gary held on to win. Both runners fell to the ground exhausted as the
others finished, Donald somewhat behind finished and rushed to his brother
to check how he was.
want to go home” wailed Jamie “Gary Thomson beat me again”
did great Jamie. Remember he’s been training longer than you”
don’t care, take me home!”
that point Gary walked towards them, Donald clenching his fists, back at
done Jamie. What a run. That was great” panted Gary still exhausted
was Donald who responded first.
remember us then?”
course I remember you two. How could I forget? I’m ashamed of how I
treated Jamie at school and you gave me what I deserved” Turning to
Jamie Gary continued “You’re a great runner Jamie. I had to be at my
best to beat you. You need to keep at this.”
looked puzzled not sure how to react. Gary held out his hand helping Jamie
things turned out Gary was an elite athlete on the brink of representing
Scotland. Jamie became a key member of the Harriers winning all the way to
the National Championships where it was his turn get over the line just
ahead of Gary.
Bruces sat in the stand as Jamie was presented with his medal and
couldn’t believe their ears, the opening bars for ‘500 miles’
blasting over the PA system. A huge grin spread across Jamie’s face as
he waved to his family.
and Mrs Bruce were proud of both their boys, Donald having done so much to
support and encourage his big brother. They had journeyed a great distance
further than anything the Proclaimers had written.