AN emergency worker who came out of retirement to help others deal with the Covid pandemic has won an award for her efforts to support a firefighters charity. 

Linda Coughlan, a control room operator at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) hub in Johnstone, was one of 14 winners honoured during a virtual ceremony introduced by Prince William.

Over the years, she has raised thousands of pounds for The Fire Fighters Charity, which provides help and financial assistance to fire service workers who have fallen on hard times.

Linda, 63, triumphed in the Supporter of the Year for Control Room Staff category at the charity’s Spirit of Fire Awards.

She joined the fire service in 1976 and has more than 40 years of frontline experience, first with Strathclyde Fire Brigade and then the SFRS.

Her father, Allan Mackay, is a former Assistant Divisional Officer of Strathclyde Fire Brigade.

When Linda was just a few days old, Mr Mackay – armed with a collection tin – would take her out in her pram to gather donations for charity.

And this is not the first time she has been recognised for her dedication to her work.

In 2017, Linda was the recipient of a Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

She retired as a Watch Commander the following year but returned to her old job in Johnstone in March, following an appeal to aid the coronavirus response.

Linda said she feels humbled to receive this latest award.

She added: “I was watching the ceremony on YouTube with my husband John. When I won, he was jumping up and down and shouting at the television.

“My family were also ringing to congratulate me.”

The Fire Fighters Charity supports 55,000 fire service personnel, past and present, as well as their dependants.

It relies on donations to meet the £10million costs of operating its various services.

Linda said: “I like meeting people and, at Christmas, we usually do bucket collections on the streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayr. Last year, we made more than £7,000 in Glasgow alone.

“It will be very different this year because of the pandemic but we’ll plan something and hope people will donate.”

Speaking via a recorded video message shown at the online awards ceremony, Prince William said it was vital that fire service personnel have somewhere to turn when they need support.

Jill Tolfrey, chief executive of the Fire Fighters Charity, added: “I’m delighted Linda has been recognised for the remarkable, lifelong support she has given to this organisation and it’s work.

“She is a true ambassador for the charity in Scotland.”