Obituary: Alex Wilson, community activist

Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson
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LEITH has lost one of its finest advocates on the passing of local historian and community activist, Alex Wilson.

Alex was Chair of the Leith Business Association (LBA) and as a historian was behind the reintroduction of the Leith Flag.

He had a passion for Leith and for Edinburgh, expressed through years of dedication to improving the social and cultural heritage of the area.

On assuming the role of chair, Alex brought the association a redrafted constitution and a much wider outlook for Leith. It was clear that when it came to heightening Leith’s prominence, Alex meant business.

Despite living and working for a time as an interior designer in California, Alex’s heart never left the Capital and he arrived back in Edinburgh intent on helping to improve the local community.

He also stood as an independent in the city’s council elections for the Leith Walk ward.

Alex’s appointment as chair of the LBA followed a two-year campaign in which he set out to recover Leith’s historic and significant flag from the heraldry office for Scotland, the Lord Lyon.

And on January 20, 2012, the ceremony was held in Leith Library, marking the handover of the flag to Leith Neighbourhood Partnership – 92 years after it was lost through the merger of Leith with Edinburgh.

He was hopeful that the flag would be used by local businesses and help stimulate the economy and reconnect the area with its unique cultural identity.

“It was always difficult to get him to buy a round,” jokes Keith Hales, who is assistant chairman at the LBA.

He was thankful for the support he received in making a success of the campaign to re-introduce the flag – never wishing to assume full recognition for what he saw as a joint achievement.

It was Alex’s belief that the flag would help Leith to re-establish its own heritage and identity and help local business too.

Indeed Alex is remembered as always having a hilarious anecdote to hand and as a man who did not treat people based on their reputations. It was this direct and fair approach to business that saw him achieve so much for the area he loved.

Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I was saddened to hear the news that Alex Wilson has died. He was a passionate community activist who devoted much of his time to promoting Leith and championing its interests. He will be remembered as a key member of the Leith community and my condolences go out to all his friends and loved ones.”

Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: “This is a terrible shock and a blow to the Leith community. His example of community commitment is indeed one which is an example to us all.”

At the time of his death Alex was helping the effort to establish the Peoples Leith Heritage Centre.