The mother of fallen firefighter Ewan Williamson has returned for the first time to the pub where he died, to express her gratitude for the fundraising efforts made by staff and customers.
Linda Williamson was joined by her son’s best friend, Tony Coia, on the visit to Benson’s Bar, formerly the Balmoral, in Dalry Road.
Mr Coia received a cheque for £1500 made out to the Ewan Williamson Memorial Fund, which uses money collected in his name to make donations to youth sports groups.
A donation of £425 was also made to the welfare fund at Tollcross fire station, where Ewan was based. The money for both donations was raised at a race night held at the pub, which reopened in May.
Mrs Williamson met staff and saw the plaque they had placed on the outside of the building in her son’s memory.
She said: “We’re very grateful to them because it’s taken quite a bit of doing. After two years it’s comforting to know that people haven’t forgotten.
“The money’s going to children and to sport, and I just felt maybe I should come along and say thank you. I needed to come, and it was nice to see the plaque, and all these things are part of the healing journey. Everybody’s been so very kind. I just wanted to say thank you.”
She said she was aware that her son’s death had profoundly moved the people of Edinburgh, who turned out in their thousands to pay their respects to his funeral cortege, following his death in July 2010. “It has an effect on everybody – and he was that kind of person. We all just love him. People shouldn’t forget the sacrifice he made.”
Mr Coia added: “We’re here because they’ve been so kind. It’s a good bunch of people in here.
“The money they’re raised will go towards helping more kids. Ewan’s name is living on through the pub now, they’ve just done so well.”
Kenny Yates was among firefighters from Tollcross fire station to collect the donation to their welfare fund. He said they were considering using it to fund the station’s annual children’s Christmas party.
He said: “It’s nice that people are still thinking about what happened two years ago. It’s always good to keep Ewan’s name in the limelight, given that people can forget.”
Race night organiser, Pauline Steven, niece of landlady Jinty Contreras, said she was pleased to maintain a link between the bar and the firefighters, and intended to make a small donation from each future fundraising night to the Tollcross station. She said: “I just think it was good to say that Ewan will never be forgotten. A lot of people did contribute to the night and without them it wouldn’t have happened – staff, customers, local businesses.”
Mr Williamson died in the basement of the bar as his colleagues rescued more than 20 people from the flats above. A joint police and HSE investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death has yet to be concluded.