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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 15:05 GMT
Tributes to Castle's Tam the Gun
Staff Sergeant Thomas McKay
Tam was a familiar figure to locals and tourists
The man responsible for firing the famous One O'Clock gun from Edinburgh Castle for more than 25 years has died.

Staff Sergeant Thomas McKay, known as Tam the Gun, died at his home early on Thursday morning at the age of 60. He had been suffering from cancer.

Tam, a father-of-three from near Dunfermline in Fife, had been firing the gun since July 1979 and was awarded the MBE in 1999.

The Army has paid tribute to what it called a "true character".

Tam continued to fire the daily signal until he became ill earlier this year.

He was a true character and he and his gun will remain a cherished memory of many tourists' trips to Edinburgh
Major Andy Jackson

His death comes in the year he married his wife Joyce in Bergen, Norway.

Deputy Chief of Staff at the Castle's 52 Infantry Brigade Major Andy Jackson said thoughts were now with his family.

He said: "Tam will be sadly missed by all members of the military community and the staff of Historic Scotland in Edinburgh Castle.

"He was a true character and he and his gun will remain a cherished memory of many tourists' trips to Edinburgh.

The one o'clock gun
The gun fires from the Castle's Mills Mount Battery

"Our thoughts are with Joyce and his son and two daughters."

Tam was one of the city's most famous faces, known to hundreds of thousands of Scots and tourists who met him over the years.

When he was not looking after the gun, he spent his working days swapping anecdotes with visitors and answering the many letters he received from his fans all over the world.

Good works

Tam eventually turned his anecdotes into the humorously-titled book called What time does the One O'Clock Gun fire?, the proceeds of which went towards the Army Benevolent Fund.

A staunch supporter of the fund, Tam gave talks around the country to raise money for the charity.

He was also responsible for the creation of the One O'Clock gun exhibition in Edinburgh Castle and he could be seen each New Year firing the gun on the BBC's Hogmanay Show.

His greatest honour came in 1999 when he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his services to the Territorial Army.

He had given up firing the gun on 27 January this year, but had hoped to return to his job.

Rail firm GNER were due to name a train after him next month.


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