When Steve met Obama

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Senior firefighter speaks of the moment he met President Barack Obama


A senior firefighter admitted he was stunned after being hand-picked to meet former US president Barack Obama.

Group Manager Steve Gourlay was at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre where Mr Obama was addressing philanthropy and business leaders at a charity dinner.

Steve was part of a multi-agency team ensuring the delivery of a safe and secure event on behalf of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

But he ended up having his picture taken following a request by the 44th American president to meet with emergency service workers – and Mr Obama even called him “Sir”.

Steve, who has 23 years’ experience as a firefighter, said: “There is no doubt whatsoever that this was the most surreal experience of my career to date.

“I was requested by the Police Commander but I didn’t know why, and was then met by Obama’s staff and briefed that I was going to meet with him.”

Alongside Steve were members of the Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland.
Steve said: “I thought we were there for a formal team photo but we got the chance to meet him individually – and he started off by calling me Sir!

“I wished him a very warm welcome to Scotland, of course, and even asked if he enjoyed his golf trip to St Andrews.

“He was just like you see on the TV and he was a really cool guy. It was a fantastic opportunity  that I will never forget.”

The £670,000 raised from the May 26 event will be invested in charities supporting young people in Scotland.