Homeless soldiers on Edinburgh streets inspired schoolboy fundraiser
An Edinburgh primary school pupil has become a social media sensation on his way to raising over £2,000 for a Scottish veterans’ charity.
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Ethan Provan, 11, has generated the donations for Scottish Veterans Residences (SVR), a charity which provides accommodation and support for homeless UK military veterans across Scotland. The funds will go towards a new garden facility for residents living at SVR’s supported accommodation centre at Whiteford House in Edinburgh.
Ethan, a P7 pupil at Castleview Primary in Niddrie, was inspired to raise money for veterans after seeing ex-soldiers begging in the streets during a trip into Edinburgh city centre with his mum Nicola. He also learned of the military service of his great-great-grandfather Samuel Wales who joined the UK Army back from the early 1930s, which further motivated Ethan to get involved.
Nicola said: “When he saw the plight of some veterans who were sleeping rough and living on the streets, it really stuck with Ethan. He told me: ‘They’ve risked their lives to protect me, so I should try and do something to help them.’”
After being shown around Edinburgh’s Whitefoord House back in 2019, Ethan saved up £80 to purchase Christmas Care Bags which included gloves, hats, first aid kits and toiletries for its residents.
When Covid struck a few months later he turned his attention to generating donations for the Whitefoord House garden project with an initial fund-raising target of £1600. He organised a range of fund-raising activities including a series of video challenges on the social media site Tic Toc where he covered himself in temporary tattoos and racked up hundreds of views. He also held raffles and was given further support from his auntie who staged a cupcake sale for his funding drive. Generous corporate donations, including one from Fife-based TechnipFMC also helped him smash his target with well over £2K raised to date.
Ethan, who has ambitions to serve in the UK military one day, is now focusing on further ways to raise money to make care packages for UK troops based abroad.
He said: “It’s been a lot of fun thinking up ways of raising this money – and I’ve also had a lot of help from some very kind people. I really want to help the veterans with their new garden because it looks like it will be a good place for them to relax and learn all about gardening.”
One of the city’s saddest recent tragedies centred on former soldier Darren Greenfield, who died in 2017 on the streets triggering outrage about how society treats veterans.
Ex-Royal Tank Regiment corporal Darren, 47, who served in Bosnia, Norther Ireland and Iraq, became a fixture outside Waverley station, with a cardboard sign saying: “Soldier in need, please help, thank you, God bless.”
He was a familiar sight on the streets of Edinburgh quietly hoping someone would spare him a few quid as he lived out life sleeping rough.
Susie Hamilton, Head of External Relations at SVR said: “Ethan is a really inspiring young person who has put his heart and soul into helping us raise the funds needed for our new veterans’ garden in Edinburgh. It’s phenomenal to see someone of his age so passionate and motivated to help others and we are very grateful for his commitment.”