Appreciation: Robin Wotherspoon, Town Clerk

Robin Wotherspoon, former Town Clerk of North Berwick who loved serving his community. Picture: Contributed
Robin Wotherspoon, former Town Clerk of North Berwick who loved serving his community. Picture: Contributed
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Born: 13 February, 1928, in Inverness. Died: 4 November, 2015, in Gullane, East Lothian.

obin Wotherspoon was born in 1928 to Robert Wotherspoon WS, former Provost of Inverness. He was the third son of five children and his childhood was spent in Inverness before attending school at Loretto where he was the Head of the Nippers before moving to the Upper School, where he represented the school in many sports.

At home in Inverness he spent his holidays during the war years fishing and shooting in order to bring in extra food, particularly for his father’s hotel in Inverness which was used as a respite holiday home for injured officers who took the train north to recuperate.

This enabled him to develop a great understand and love of nature. He spent much of his childhood at Benula Estate before it was flooded for the developing hydro electric schemes and thereafter at Glen Affric.

He had a great respect and love for the people who worked and lived in the glens and was close to the MacLennan family, who were stalkers at Affric for three generations. Robin was a skilled fisherman and spent many weeks on the Rivers Ness, Beauly and Conon. He had the greatest respect for all living things and a deep love of the Highlands which he passed on to his family.

Robin moved to Edinburgh in 1948 after studying law at Trinity College Oxford in order to convert to Scottish law at Edinburgh University. He was an active member of the congregation at St George’s West Church, where he met his future wife Margaret.

After two years carrying out military service with the Royal Signals at Catterick and in Germany he returned to undertake his apprenticeship with WJ Burness in Edinburgh.

Robin and Margaret moved to North Berwick in December 1955, when Robin joined the law firm Wallace & Menzies. Following the death of Mr.Menzies in 1956, Robin took over as senior partner and stepped into the role of Town Clerk, which he held until the government re-organisation in 1975. He finally retired in 1990.

During his 17 years as North Berwick Town Clerk Robin worked closely with the borough surveyor and town chamberlain to ensure the wellbeing of the town and its people. This triumvirate assisted the elected provost bailies and councillors to run the town including all the council housing, roads and infrastructure and their own licensing court.

Among the many tributes to Robin were several from his colleagues from those days. They mentioned Robin’s contribution to the town over many years, particularly the time he gave to everyone who asked for advice, and that his advice was always wise and helpful.

Robin was a true gentleman in every sense and he served the town with great integrity. He had a wonderful gift that before making a difficult decision he always tried to visualise how it would affect the other person.

Those working in the Town Council were a tight-knit community and Robin served under several provosts, many of whom became his good friends. They were all important in the life of the town but John McNair was the last Provost of North Berwick and a particular friend of Robin’s.

Together they ensured that the assets and common ground belonging to North Berwick could be retained after reorganisation of local government in 1975.

Robin was an elder at Blackadder Church in North Berwick until it merged with St Andrew’s in 1987 and he was a keen traditionalist in every way.

He loved Scottish literature, particularly John Buchan and Sir Walter Scott, and was fond of cinema and music, playing the fiddle and the pipes himself well into his later years.

Golf was another important aspect of Robin’s life and he played regularly every week at the New Club in North Berwick. Many contacts and friends were made through the Golf Club and both he and his wife Margaret were club captains.

Robin was also a member at Muirfield, which he loved in his later years when he had time to enjoy it. The one big sadness in Robin’s life was his failing memory. The effects of Alzheimer’s meant that he and his wife moved back to Edinburgh to spend more time with the family in 2005.

When they could no longer manage for themselves they made the decision to move to Muirfield Nursing Home, where they were looked after by a dedicated team of carers.

Robin and Margaret celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on 4 June this year with their four children, eight grandchildren, great-granddaughter and their families.

The family are extremely grateful to the carers at home and the staff at Muirfield Nursing Home at Gullane, who showed so much kindness during the last months of Robin’s illness and looked after Robin and Margaret while allowing them to stay together right up until the very end.