Thursday, 01 June 2017

Death of Long-serving Lonach Society Member

It is with great sadness that the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, on behalf of his family, announces the death of long-serving member Robert (Rob) Walker of Ballater.

Born in September 1926 at Castle Fraser, Rob moved with his family at the age of nine to Balachailach, Strathdon.  He lived and farmed there his entire working life.  In 1959, he married Elma and the couple brought up three daughters, Ruby, Evie and Iris, at the Glen Deskry farm, before retiring to Dinnet and latterly Ballater.

Rob first became connected with the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society in 1946 when he was asked by a fellow member to march in his place.  The following year, he joined the society and became a Lonach Highlander.  He took part in the annual march at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games until 2009, only missing the 2004 march following a hip operation.

Rob was an active member of the society and witnessed its membership blossom from around 100 members to the current figure of 227.  In 1991, when the Lonach Highlanders marched from Strathdon to the Braemar Gathering, Rob escorted the then patron, Sir Hamish Forbes, who was on horseback.

Along with other Highlanders, Rob appeared in a production of Brigadoon at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, officially opened the 1992 Oldmeldrum Sports, and pulled the wedding car of current society patron, Sir James Forbes, at his wedding to Lady Kerry.

An avid and skilled maker of walking sticks, Rob made hundreds throughout his lifetime, selling the carved shepherd’s crooks at local shows and fairs.  It was a hobby he first took up at the age of 13 and he continued to make and mend sticks in his workshop at his Ballater home.

To mark Rob’s contribution to the society, Lonach Highlanders, dressed in their full uniform, will act as pallbearers at his funeral service.  The Highlanders will also honour their colleague at the graveside, paying their final respects by removing the sprig of broom from their bonnets and placing it into the grave.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “Rob was a respected and much loved member of the society.  The contribution he made over seven decades of loyal service has helped to ensure the society’s continued success.

“Although he retired from marching eight years ago, he maintained a keen interest in proceedings and was thrilled to learn that the Highlanders would be attending the Royal Edinburgh Military tattoo this August.”

Along with being an ardent supporter of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society and its annual gathering, Rob also volunteered at the Aboyne Highland Games.  He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge in Strathdon for over 40 years.

Rob is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elma, his three daughters, Ruby, Evie and Iris, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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