Former Kirkcaldy soldier praises poppy charity

Alex Watson is now helping Poppyscotland. Pic by Mark Owens, Poppyscotland
Alex Watson is now helping Poppyscotland. Pic by Mark Owens, Poppyscotland

A former soldier from Kirkcaldy who was supported through troubled times by the Poppyscotland charity is helping to repay the favour.

Alex Watson (73) received a grant from the charity to put towards furnishing a new flat after he was made homeless and lost all his savings a few years ago.

The money played a big part in getting his life back on track and now grateful Alex is doing his bit by having his story featured in the charity’s newsletter that goes out to thousands of supporters in Scotland.

And Alex was also involved in launching Poppyscotland’s annual poppy appeal this week, being led by Scotland football manager Alex McLeish.

He told the Press: “Poppyscotland helped me during a very difficult time in my life so I thought the least I could do is to help them in return.

“I had no money and I was homeless for a while.

“It was a struggle to afford food, but I just had to keep going – I felt it was survival of the fittest.

Things improved for Alex when a Fife Council housing officer identified him as an ex-serviceman and in November last year he moved into a new flat in Templehall where he is now happily settled.

The housing officer put him in touch with Poppyscotland and he got the support he needed.

Alex was born in Kirkcaldy and went to Pathhead Primary and the old Kirkcaldy High School before leaving aged 15 to take a job as an apprentice designer at the Michael Nairn linoleum factory.

At the age of 18, after missing National Service by one year, he joined the Black Watch, signing up at the recruitment centre in Kirk Wynd.

He completed seven years’ military service, working his way up to corporal and getting the opportunity to see the world, and gain life experience.

After demobbing in 1968 he married wife Samantha and the couple settled in Kirkcaldy, he working with ICI in Edinburgh and she with the electricity board.

They moved to Pembrokeshire where he managed a caravan site for 17 years, before becoming involved in chicken farming and in several agricultural jobs.

His last job before retiral was as a security officer at 
Napier University in Edinburgh.

After so many years of “normal life” things took a bad turn in 2016 when within a short period he was evicted from his home, fell out with family and suffered a betrayal which left him thousands of pounds out of pocket and with no savings.

And he says that if it hadn’t been for the help of Poppyscotland and the Society of St Vincent de Paul he would have struggled to survive.

“Now for the first time in a long time, I feel I can cope and that I’m getting better,” he said.

“This is the least I can do to help pay them back.”