MARCH is a sombre, reflective month for many people in the town of Dunblane. It couldn’t be otherwise.

Next Sunday is the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic events of March 1996, when Thomas Hamilton’s murderous impulses led him to shoot dead 16 young children and their teacher.

For years afterwards, the killings were what many people thought of whenever the town was mentioned. In more recent times, however, the vibrant successes of Andy Murray have given Dunblane something else to be known for. The town, you suspect, is eternally grateful.

This is a close-knit, self-reliant sort of place. An experienced local counsellor said last week: “I have over the years heard many moving stories about how families and friends supported each other. I know that in one street the women arranged to meet up and that led to a book club that has continued to meet once a month and is still going strong.”

Mike Robbins is the Provost of Stirling, and helps represent the Dunblane/Bridge of Allan ward on Stirling Council. Twenty years ago, he was the chairman of the Dunblane primary school board. “Very reflective” is the phrase he uses about his feelings at this time of year.

Dunblane, he observes, is a “small, friendly, self-contained community, a place where people naturally pass the time of day when they meet in the street. [In the weeks after the tragedy] people would talk to each other more readily, and you could see people giving each other a hug in the street.”

By its very nature as a dormitory town, he adds, “there has been quite a change in the population in the intervening period.” People who had moved into Dunblane in that time “clearly have an awareness of what the town went through, and the people I have met have treated the matter with sensitivity and dignity, which is always something that is good to see.”

Emphasising that he was speaking purely for himself, Mr Robbins continues: “One thing I tend to find difficult is this expression that people use, ‘moving on’ – because, really, do you move on? It implies you have left something behind.

“It’s one of those things you don’t leave behind. It’s omnipresent, always part of your life. People say time is a great healer, but it is definitely still there, for me at least. How you cope with that is the difficult thing.”

He mentions the memorial stained-glass windows in the town’s Holy Family Church. The windows were unveiled in December 1998, Canon Basil O’Sullivan having already remarked of them: “We hope it will be part of the healing process and that we will have left behind us for the future generations, a monument that is appropriate to the tragedy.”

Their theme is the triumph of good over evil. “As far as I’m concerned,” says Mr Robbins, “they’re an eloquent expression of Faith, how people cope with things and move one step at a time. It’s summed up in these three windows, which talk about moving from darkness into light. The message is very powerful, very moving.”

A few minutes’ walk away from the Holy Family Church, at the top of the narrow High Street, stands a quietly potent symbol of the ‘new’ Dunblane. An otherwise ordinary postbox, it was painted gold in celebration of Andy Murray’s victory over Roger Federer in the London 2012 Olympics. It is just down the road from the Cathedral, where Andy and Kim Sears were married last April. Pink ribbons fluttered from the postbox last month when Kim gave birth to a daughter, Sophia. Murray has said of his sporting success: “It’s just nice I’ve been able to do something that the town is proud of.”

He and his brother Jamie were, of course, at the primary school that day in 1996. Andy wept as he recalled the events in a television interview a few years ago. “The only time I get emotional about Jamie and Andy’s Wimbledon wins is when I’m in Dunblane,” their mother, Judy, told the Radio Times in 2014. “When you’ve gone through a really dark, tragic time, and then come to a real high. I hope it helps people to feel something really positive about that town … What it definitely does is make you appreciate what you’ve got.”

Mike Robbins smiles as he recalls the police estimate that some 15,000 people turned up to see Murray when he went walkabout in Dunblane after his Wimbledon triumph in September 2012.

“The place was absolutely jumping and Andy walked around and signed so many autographs. The goodwill generated that day was unbelievable, and you often see pictures of him walking up the High Street, even now. That was a strong, positive image of the place, which has been reinforced by the golden postbox as well. People come from all over to have their picture taken with the postbox. Andy’s triumphs have been great for him, and great for Dunblane.”

A remarkably poignant TV documentary marking the 20th anniversary will be screened on Wednesday night. Many of the interviewees have never spoken publicly before. It’s an unshowy but deeply felt portrait, not just of that day 20 years ago but also of its impact on those who witnessed it or were bereaved by it.

Stephen Bennett, who produced and directed the documentary, said the aim had been to make it “the defining project, the final chapter in the Dunblane tragedy.”

“When you start a film like this you ask yourself, what you are trying to say by the end of it? In this case I think there is a huge maze surrounding the events of that day. You don’t know how you would deal with it. None of us knows. But they found a way through that maze, through a mixture of friendship, love, compassion, empathy and resilience. Alison shows she has that resilience. She says Dunblane is not going away.”

Alison is the older sister of Joanna Ross, one of Hamilton’s victims. To her, fittingly, go the final words in the documentary. March 13, 1996, she says, “is part of history now unfortunately, as well, and it’s something that needs to be remembered, so that everyone’s aware that we are still here, we are still getting on with our lives and we didn’t just fade into the background. We still had to power on, and push on with our lives. It’s important that everyone knows we’re doing it – we’re doing it well.”

Dunblane: Our Story, BBC One Scotland, Wednesday, 9pm.