RETIREMENT home residents were surprised to be paid a visit by the Russian President’s top diplomat in Scotland – armed with a war medal and a large bottle of vodka.
Andrey Pritsepov, the Russian Consul General, visited Milton Court retirement home in Portobello, Edinburgh.
He presented a Ushakov Medal to Alex Ramsay, 88, who was part of the 1944 Arctic Convoys.
The treacherous missions, which took place in freezing conditions, delivered vital supplies to the Soviet Union as they battled the axis powers on the eastern front.
Mr Ramsay, a veteran of the Merchant Navy, said: “I am thrilled to receive another medal for my involvement in the war effort – it gives me a reason to reflect on the time I spent in the Merchant Navy.
“My main memory of the convoy was the camaraderie and the great team-spirit on the boat whilst we battled the enduring and bitterly cold weather.
“The team at Milton Court threw a great party – and we all had a shot of Russian vodka something which the Ambassador said was ‘to celebrate the efforts of brave men’ like me.”
The arctic convoys suffered heavy losses, with 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships lost during the missions.
Linda Mason, Retirement Manager at Milton Court said: “We are all so very proud of Alex’s achievements – he is an unassuming and modest man but his story is truly inspiring.
“His three older brothers enrolled in the army, and at just 16 Alex was technically too young – but was determined to play his part – against his mother’s will and contribute to the war effort.”
Alex met his wife-to-be in the Merchant Navy – and was quickly offered an ultimatum – get married or stay in the Merchant Navy.
Alex became a bus conductor in 1950 before eventually going on to drive buses in and around Edinburgh. He has been a resident at Milton Court since July 2006 and has two children, Christine and Stuart, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.