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Historic building café tribute to Royal Marine by proud husband

Historic building café tribute to Royal Marine by proud husband
13 June 2016
A Stirling man is honouring his wife’s memory by setting up a coffee shop like the one they dreamed of opening together once she left the Royal Marines.

Band Corporal Shona McKeown, aged 39, had been married for just 12 weeks and was on the verge of returning to civilian life when she died from a brain tumour in January this year.

Her husband Frank took the courageous decision of pushing ahead with her idea of setting up the business and has opened Cowane’s Café at Cowane’s Hospital, a 17th century alms house and one of Stirling’s most beautiful and historic buildings.

Today saw the official opening, due to be attended by family and former comrades, where the Marines, Frank and his aunt Marion will present The Brain Tumour Charity with £8,900 raised in memory of Shona.

She epitomised the ethos and standards of the Royal Marines in every respect; hugely determined and committed in all she did.

Captain Daryl Powell, Director of Music RM

Former colleagues of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland were in attendance to play a fanfare at the ceremony.

Frank said: “We had talked about having a little coffee shop somewhere. It was an idea she really loved because she liked meeting people so much. I think she would have been great at it, she was such a chatterbox and people just fell in love with her as soon as they spoke to her.

“She had travelled the world and loved all the different foods she found in different countries.

“After she passed we suddenly heard there was an opportunity at Cowane’s and that was it. Once I’d decided to make that leap nothing was going to stop me setting up a café. It’s a way to honour Shona and to carry on our dreams.”

The café, which is seasonal, is already attracting lots of customers from around the area for drinks, snacks and lunches – Frank thinks that Shona would have been especially delighted with the Haggis Panini they have on the menu.

Captain Daryl Powell, Director of Music, and Shona’s former commanding officer said: “Band Corporal Shona McKeown spent a large part of her career in The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Scotland, so her passing was a huge loss to all the members of the band.

“She epitomised the ethos and standards of the Royal Marines in every respect; hugely determined and committed in all she did.

“The charity auction was organised to raise awareness and funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. This was a fitting event to mark her passing.

“The band were on tour in the US and Canada early in 2016 and consequently were unable to attend the funeral, so the fact that we were able to contribute this money, and present it in a week which culminates with a memorial service in her honour, is our way of celebrating her life and career.”

According to Marion the café has got off to a great start thanks to the help and support of many friends.

Marion said: “It’s been amazing the way people have all come together to support us.

“We have one friend doing lots of the baking and another, who spent a long time in the hospitality industry, has been up here showing us the ropes.”

She, like Frank, is determined to do everything possible to make Shona’s dream come true: “Shona was absolutely lovely and this has been a terrible loss.

“Setting up a café was something that I heard them talking about. It was such a nice dream and we are proud to be able to do this.”

The cake baker is Jenni Dickinson and Sue McAllister has been providing advice about the catering world.

Fergus Wood, Chair of Cowane’s Hospital maintenance Trust (CHMT), said: “The story behind Cowane’s Café is incredibly moving and we are very pleased indeed to see it open and already doing so well.

Frank, Marion and their friends have really put their hearts into getting everything just right and we are sure it will be a great success.”

Shona, who was originally from Dyce in Aberdeenshire had been based at Rosyth when she and Frank met in 2013 and bought a house together in Dunfermline which he is now renovating in the way they had both planned.

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