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Popular Buckie pastor dies from Covid despite double jab

By Alistair Whitfield

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BUCKIE and the rest of Moray is in mourning after losing John Coppard to Covid-19 at the age of just 64.

Pastor John Coppard was Buckie Thistle FC's first club chaplain. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Pastor John Coppard was Buckie Thistle FC's first club chaplain. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

John was the pastor of Buckie Riverside Church on East Church Street and was at the forefront of so many of the good things that happen in the town.

A familiar site around its streets is the Big Green Bus.

Originally an ordinary single decker vehicle, John converted it into a place where people with addictions to drugs and alcohol could find help.

One former addict has commented that without meeting John he would probably be dead by now, or would certainly have spent his life frequently locked up in prison.

The Big Green Bus has helped many addicts find a new path for their lives.
The Big Green Bus has helped many addicts find a new path for their lives.

Gavin Hunter, the former Minister at Buckie Baptist Church, first met John in 2014.

He describes him as have being more of a friend than a colleague.

Gavin said: "John was really big hearted and he was big in the community.

"He was a larger than life character who ran several different projects in the town that were all both helpful and effective.

"Anyone who knew John knew that he was always prepared give people his full attention.

"He had an amazing ability to make a person feel special for being who they are.

"I am going to miss him terribly and I know the congregation at his church will do too – he was their figurehead."

John was born in Portgordon, moving to Buckie when he was still quite young.

His original line of work involved fitting phone systems and alarms.

After finding faith in the mid-1980s, he then went on to become the pastor of the Riverside Church in 2010.

Not one to stand on ceremony, John would usually preach while dressed is his regular attire of jeans and a T-shirt.

In addition to the Big Green Bus, John organised regular soup and sweet lunches, as well as special Christmas dinners for people who were on their own, which were always very well received by the community.

As well as his Christian faith John was also passionate about dogs and about football.

He was the chaplain of Buckie Thistle who, like his beloved Celtic, play in green and white.

In addition, he was instrumental in a campaign for goalposts to be set up on land near the estate where he lived so that local kids could develop their skills.

John Coppard died on November 19 from Covid despite being double vaccinated.

One of his last wishes is that others should take the virus seriously and give themselves the maximum possible protection by getting their proper vaccinations.

John leaves a wife, Irene, two daughters, Sonya and Elaine, and a son, Roy.

His funeral will take place at noon today (Tuesday) at Buckie North Church in Cluny Square. All welcome.

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