Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 16:11 UK

City honours fallen firefighter


Hundreds of firefighters paid their respects during the funeral cortege

Hundreds of firefighters from across the UK have been honouring their fallen colleague who died in an Edinburgh pub fire.

Ewan Williamson, 35, was killed while tackling a fire in the Balmoral bar in the early hours of 12 July.

Mr Williamson's colleagues from Tollcross fire station's Green Watch placed his coffin on a fire engine to take him to St Giles Cathedral.

The cortege left at 1255 BST with crowds lining the route.

The parade, led by area manager John Dickie, took a route along Lauriston Place, Forrest Road and George IV Bridge to St Giles Cathedral.

The parade paused outside Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters in Lauriston Place to take a formal salute, before moving towards George IV Bridge.

Ewan Williamson Pic: Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service/PA Wire)
Ewan Williamson died while fighting a fire in Edinburgh

The service began at 1330 BST, with 650 people filling the church.

Only invited guests were allowed inside but the service was broadcast over a public address system.

About 70 firefighters attended the Balmoral Bar blaze and at least 20 people were rescued from flats above the pub.

Another firefighter, 29-year-old Oliver Carrigan, was injured.

Mr Carrigan and other members of the station's Green Watch were pallbearers at the service.

Representatives from fire stations across the UK stood in four ranks outside St Giles', as crowds braved the pouring rain to line the parade route.

The street, normally buzzing with tourists at this time of year, was silent.

The quiet was broken by a choir singing, played through speakers outside the cathedral. A church organ and bagpipes could also be heard.

'Ultimate sacrifice'

Two firefighters in dress uniform, with distinctive white helmets, stood either side of the cathedral in Parliament Square.

A lone piper led the funeral procession down the Royal Mile followed by scores of firefighters.

Mr Williamson's coffin was carried on the back of a fire engine draped in red cloth with a yellow helmet on top.

A floral tribute on the front of the engine spelled out "Tollcross".

Six of Mr Williamson's former colleagues took the coffin from the engine, then carried it in silence up the stairs to the church where the service got under way.

Funeral parade
Thousands lined the streets to pay their respects

George Grubb, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, led the tributes during the one-hour service.

"Ewan Williamson lost his life fighting a fire in the city - and he lost it on our behalf," he said.

"Whatever the situation, it requires discipline, skill, courage and ingenuity that come with years of experience and training.

"Teamwork counts and firefighters know the importance of that - Ewan was a member of a team.

"Edinburgh mourns him but it also gives thanks that one of its own firefighters who gave his life in the service of others."

In his address, Mr Grubb offered his sympathy to Mr Williamson's family, friends, and the fire service.

Brian Allaway, Lothian and Borders chief fire officer, described his former colleague as a "firefighter's firefighter".

He said: "Ewan was determined and focused when it came to his job.

"He possessed a quiet and determined resolve.

"Very quickly he became a role model for some of the younger members."

Mr Allaway added that Mr Williamson paid the "ultimate sacrifice" while trying to save the lives of others.

The Rev Peter Graham, moderator of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, told the congregation: "We have come together today - not only from this city but from many places - to share with family, friends and colleagues of Ewan Williamson our sense of sadness and loss."

Mr Williamson's mother, Linda, and his sisters, Rachael and Rebecca, sat in the front row, along with his partner, Lynsey Baird.

At the end of the service, Mr Williamson's colleagues from Green Watch again picked up the coffin and carried it out.

Mr Allaway followed, with Mr Williamson's family leaving behind him.

They then attended a private service at the city's Mortonhall Crematorium.

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