British Olympian praises SFRS Watch Commander for dedicating 'untold hours' to charity

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Born to a firefighter father and raising money for charity since she was old enough to hold a collection tin, SFRS Watch Commander Linda Coughlan has won a special award for her fundraising efforts.

From one amazing Scots woman to another, British Olympian Dame Katherine Grainger presented Linda with the Supporter of the Year: Control Staff accolade as part of The Fire Fighters Charity Spirit of Fire awards.

The event was held virtually on the evening of Wednesday, November 4.

Dame Grainger described how WC Coughlan, who is based at Johnstone Operations Control, Renfrewshire, had been ‘central to fundraising across her region’ and had ‘dedicated untold hours to supporting the charity’.

Linda said she felt humbled to receive the award. Speaking afterwards, she commented: “I was watching on YouTube with my husband John. When I won he was jumping up and down and shouting at the television. My family were ringing to congratulate me, but all I wanted to do was watch the rest of the event to see if anyone else from Scotland was going to win.”

This is not the first time Linda from Elderslie in Renfrewshire has been recognised for her dedication to her work. In 2017, she was the recipient of a Queen’s Fire Service Medal after 40 years on the frontline. She retired in 2018, but the 63 year old returned to Operations Control in March 2020 as a Firefighter Control following an appeal to help with the COVID-19 response.

Having helped the charity for decades, Linda says Christmas is her favourite fundraising period.

She added: “I like meeting people and at Christmas we usually do bucket collections on the streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayr. I love when people come up and talk to me about the fire service. Last year we made more than £7,000 in Glasgow alone. It’ll be very different this year because of the pandemic, but we’ll plan something and hope people will donate to this fantastic charity.”

The Spirit of Fire awards was a star-studded virtual ceremony that also included HRH Prince William, actor Michael Sheen and musician Dr Brian May.

More on the awards and winners here.

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