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Waverley Steps, Winnie Ewing and Me

Childhood memories sparked from volunteering for the Yes Campaign away from home

Yes Edinburgh, 26th January 2013
Yes Edinburgh, 26th January 2013

On the 26th of January 2013 Yes Scotland held a National Yes Day. I was in Edinburgh on that day and I was therefore unable to help out at any of my local events. Instead, I contacted a couple of Yes groups in Edinburgh to volunteer.

The first venue was Waverley station where I met a number of the Yes campaign Young Scots. Despite the obvious fact that I am not young I was made very welcome and assisted the group in their leafleting for an hour.

I was positioned at the top of the Waverley Steps along with a fellow volunteer. Coincidentally, Inverness Caledonian Thistle were also visiting the Capital that day. Waverley Steps is quite a busy spot on a normal Saturday but the supporters of the Highland team added to the footfall on this Cup semi-final day. The time flew by and the vast majority of the public were happy to accept our interactions.

Waverley Steps, Edinburgh
Waverley Steps, Edinburgh

During my short time at the top of the Waverley Steps I reflected on one of my own experiences at that spot in the early 1970s. I was around 13 years of age, returning to Edinburgh with my parents and was struggling up the steps travel worn and luggage bound. At the top of the Steps my parents were asked to sign a petition to support the installation of an escalator. After my parents signed the petition I asked who the woman was and I was informed that it was the 1st Lady of Scotland, Winnie Ewing.

So, there I was on Princes Street at the top of the Waverley Steps, more than forty years on, watching the movement of the escalator, which had only recently been completed in early 2012. What a shame Winnie's suggestion wasn't acted upon earlier as it would have saved more than forty years of struggle.

After my hour of volunteering with the Young Scots I moved to Gorgie Road and assisted there. Again, I was made very welcome and spent the next hour and a half assisting in the Gorgie Road event. There was a stall with music and the atmosphere was very warm despite the efforts of a bitterly cold wind. Passers-by engaged the group in conversation and I got the impression that everyone was clearly supportive of the Yes campaign. My fellow Highlanders weren't fairing so well across the city at Easter Road where Hearts performed better at penalty kicks.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the organisers who made me very welcome. No doubt we will be in touch in the future.

  1. Image of Waverley Steps: © David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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