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Search for boy saved by Fife ‘living legend’ Hamish McKay 50 years ago

Hamish with The Centre where he worked, inset, and the former social work office..

A Fife “legend” known to generations of children once saved the life of a young boy.

And now the search is on for the lad who was pulled from Methil docks in the 1960s by hero Hamish McKay.

Hamish, a well-know youth worker in Leven for more than half a century, is one of the few Fifers to have a street named after him during his lifetime.

And he is also due to be presented with the British Empire Medal in recognition of his service with the area’s youngsters.

Hamish McKay worked at the Centre, Leven.

But he has often wondered what became of Kevin Gardiner, who he saved from drowning several decades ago.

Now, Leven Labour councillor Colin Davidson is trying to trace Kevin in time for the street-naming and medal presentation ceremonies.

Kevin, who would probably be in his late 50s now, had been playing at the docks when he fell in.

Luckily Hamish McKay worked for Forth Ports at Methil and spotted him.

He dived in and hauled the youngster out and he was said to be none the worse for his ordeal.

Kevin’s mum later wrote to Hamish to thank him but that was the last he heard of him.

Emigrated to Australia

Mr Davidson said Hamish had been reflecting on his life recently when the subject of the rescue came up.

“I thought it would be nice if Kevin could come to the street-naming ceremony,” he said.

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Councillor Colin Davidson.

“However, initial enquiries suggest he and his family emigrated to Australia some time ago.

“If we can track him down then we might be able to set up an online meeting between them.”

Mr Davidson said people in Levenmouth and in Australia were now on the case but were finding it difficult to track Kevin down.

“We know he lived in Whyterose Terrace at the time of the rescue and he had a brother called Derek,” he said.

McKay Court

In August, Fife Council broke its own rules when members voted to name a street in Hamish’s honour.

Normally, the honour only goes to people after their death.

However, the Buckhaven man’s name will adorn the signs at McKay Court on the site of Leven’s former social work offices.

The new street is next to The Centre, where Hamish ran youth clubs for many years.

And it’s the second honour to be bestowed on him, coming months after he was awarded a BEM for his youth work.

Fife Council SNP co-leader David Alexander previously described Hamish as a living legend.

“There are legends in this world and then there’s Hamish,” he said.

The medal has yet to be formally awarded and Mr Davidson hopes to get in touch with Kevin before it is.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts can email him at

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