Edinburgh World War II veteran leaves home unaided for first time in 4 years with aid of new ramp

A 98-year old war veteran has been able to leave his home unaided for the first time in four years thanks to a life changing new ramp installed in his Oxgangs property.

Saturday, 29th June 2019, 8:23 am
Bill celebrated with a half pint in the Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh . Pic: Neil Hanna Photography

Bill Walker, 98, was born and raised on the Cowgate but left Edinburgh to fight with the Royal Scots in Burma during the second world war.

The retired mental health nurse, who earned the Burma Star medal during service, was wounded in battle and has struggled with mobility ever since.

For the last four years the widower, who is described as being ‘ fiercely independent’, has felt trapped in his own home at Oxgangs Farm Loan due to the lack of access to and from his property.

He said: “I spent my time inside reading, writing, watching a little T.V but mostly just reading and crosswords. I just had to put up with it”

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Mr Walker’s isolation affected his whole family, including his three daughters Fran Corbett, 66 Dot Fraser, 65 and Jackie Hancock, 62.

Eldest daughter Mrs Corbett explained that Mr Walker has had to spend most of last Christmas alone in his house due to his physical disability which made them ‘all feel terrible.’

She said: “Over Christmas my dad would go up to my sister Dot’s, she throws a big family party, but as my Dad has been becoming less mobile he’s not been spending Christmas up at Dot’s”.

Mr Walker has also had to stop going to his local pub on Fridays because he ‘couldn’t cope with the logistics of getting there’.

Mrs Corbett said: “My Dad was miserable, he couldn’t be bothered to do anything he even stopped reading and my Dad has always read.”

But Mr Walkers situation was transformed when a £5,000 life changing ramp, described as a ‘a wee escape route from the house’ was finally finished, after three full days of hard work.

Mrs Corbett said: “It was unbelievable what the guys did to get that ramp in, they said it was the most difficult ramp they ever worked on”.

She explained that the ramp gives her Dad full access to the property, with paths leading down the side of the house and straight onto the pavement.

She said “It’s truly amazing and it’s going to look lovely when we get hanging baskets on it.”

Mr Walker enjoyed his first day out with a trip to The Royal Scots Club where he was joined for a pint by Colonel Martin Gibson OBE DL.

Colonel Gibson said that getting the ramp “has been a real team effort that has made such a huge difference.”

Along with the Council, Legion Scotland, SSAFA, Bill’s family and the contractor we have ‘fixed it’.”

Private Bill Walker is looking forward to future trips out, being able to pop up to see his daughters and join in with Christmas celebrations for the first time in years.