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Former Buckie teacher and community stalwart mourned

By Alan Beresford

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TRIBUTES have been flooding in for a widely respected former Buckie teacher and community stalwart.

John Fowlie, who passed away last week.
John Fowlie, who passed away last week.

John Fowlie MBE, who educated generations of children at Buckie High School and Keith Grammar, sadly passed away last Monday. He was 85.

A lifetime dedicated to serving the community saw him awarded the MBE in the 2017 Queen's new year honours list, an award he described at the time as a “great honour” which "came right out of the blue.

Paying tribute to Mr Fowlie's contribution to the lives of countless children was the chairwoman of Moray Council's education committee Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie), herself a former pupil.

"I knew John for a great many years, he was my PE teacher and taught with my dad at Keith Grammar," she said.

"He commanded a lot of respect as a teacher and was always a delight to speak to.

"John influenced generations of kids and helped steer many back onto the right path when they had lost their way.

"He cared so much about his community as well as his family and friends.

"So many organisations in Buckie, as well as individuals, benefited from his support, knowledge, commitment and compassion, including the fishing heritage centre and Buckie lifeboat.

"He'll be sorely missed by many."

His service as Deputy then Vice Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire was praised by former Lord Lieutenant Clare Russell, who worked closely with him for many years.

She said: “It is with great sadness that we had to say goodbye to John Fowlie.

"He was a very special person in my life and an enormous support to me as Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire. I was so delighted he was prepared to take on the role when he had so many other responsibilities, in particular in being secretary of the Buckie lifeboat, a position he held from

1995-2003. All this was in addition to his role as Principal Teacher of Guidance at Buckie High School .

"He was a wonderful Vice Lord-Lieutenant and he helped me enormously with many royal visits to Banffshire and events at Ballindalloch Castle.

"He was also heavily involved with producing my book I love Banffshire which I sold for Banffshire charities.

"All of this work lead him to being presented with an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen.

"He was very special in my role as Lord-Lieutenant and was always at my side to help and guide me on many occasions.

"He will be missed greatly by the people of Banffshire."

The current Lord Lieutenant, Andrew Simpson, added: "During John's time as both Deputy and then Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, he sought to promote our local communities as well as the area," he continued.

"He will be remembered as a kind and thoughtful man and a great support not just to the Lord-Lieutenants and to the entire team but also to all those with whom he came into contact.

"My deepest condolences to Catherine and the family."

Prior to entering teaching in 1960, Mr Fowlie, who hailed from Buckie, served his National Service in the Parachute Regiment. During this time, in 1956, he took part in the airborne landings at Suez, part of an ultimately unsuccessful Anglo-French action designed to wrest control of the canal away from Egyptian President Nasser.

He also saw action during the Cyprus emergency against Greek Cypriot EOKA terrorists.

Back home, Mr Fowlie joined the Gordon Highlanders TA in 1962, gaining a commission, but resigned in 1966 following a family bereavement.

A lifetime commitment to giving young people the best start began in 1960 when he took up a post as a PE teacher at Keith Grammar School. He worked his way up to become Principal Teacher of the department before making the short trip up the road to Buckie High, where he was to become PT guidance. He retired in 1996.

It as not just in school that Mr Fowlie had a profound interest in children's welfare, being accepted in 1972 to serve on the then Banffshire Children's Panel. His connection with the organisation was to last 23 years, latterly as the chairman of Moray District Children's Panel Advisory Committee.

Away from education, Mr Fowlie contributed greatly to the local community in myriad ways. A sailor of more than two decades standing, he was appointed to the posts of Honorary Secretary and launching authority of the Buckie RNLI branch, posts he held until 2003.

Buckie lifeboat station's lifeboat operations manager Anne Scott described Mr Fowlie as a "real gentleman".

She said: "The one consistency when anyone talks about John is that he was a real gentleman through and through.

"He was Honorary Secretary (now known as Lifeboat Operations Manager) when the current lifeboat came home and held the post from 1985 to 2003 when he would have been responsible for running the lifeboat station over this time.

"He was well respected by everyone who knew him in the many roles he had in the community whether that was as Deputy and later Vice Lord Lieutenant, school teacher, heritage centre, Probus Club or in the sailing community."

This love of the sea was to see him become a director with the Buckie and District Fishermen's Heritage Centre Ltd and represented the South and West Church in Buckie, where he was an elder of long standing, on the Buckie and District Seamen's Memorial Chapel, taking on the role of secretary.

He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1995 and three years later was invited to serve as a Depute Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire under the then Lord Lieutenant, James McPherson. He was made Vice Lord Lieutenant in 2003 and worked with Mr McPherson's successor, Clare Russell, until his retirement from the role in 2011.

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