THE “likely candidate” to replace Sergeant James Shannon as Edinburgh Castle’s One o’clock gunner is a woman.
Sergeant Shannon, who became the 29th person to carry out the role in 2005, was suspended in February and fired last month amid claims he offered unofficial tours at the landmark.
It emerged yesterday that Bombardier Allison Jones, the first woman to fire the One o’Clock Gun, is now the frontrunner to replace Sergeant Shannon, known popularly as “Shannon the Cannon”.
Bombardier Jones is a member of the Territorial Army’s 105 Regiment Royal Artillery and has stood in for Sergeant Shannon previously when he was on leave.
A source at the Ministrty of Defence said: “Bombardier Jones has been filling in, as she has done several times in the past. No long-term appointment has been made but some will see her as the likely candidate.”
Sergeant Shannon was suspended in February over claims he led night-time tours to parts of the Castle that are usually off-limits. Last week, the MoD confirmed he had been sacked but refused to explain the move.
But Sergeant Shannon, a member of 105 Regiment Royal Artillery with 24 years’ service, has disputed claims that he was untrustworthy and has vowed to appeal against his dismissal last week.
Angry relatives of Sergeant Shannon also hit out after the announcement, with one saying: “What on earth are they thinking of? He is a well-known and well-liked personality and a tourist attraction.”
Bombardier Jones, who also works as a manager at a 10-pin bowling centre, has been appointed as a temporary District Gunner.
Sergeant Shannon, a Territorial Army soldier for 23 years, took over the One o’Clock Gun from staff sergeant Tam “the Gun” McKay, who retired in 2005 and has since died.
He revelled in his role and received mail from fans based in countries as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa and California. He also fired the gun at the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, and again for her funeral.