Obituary: Archie McLullich, educational psychologist and educator

Archie McLullich, educational psychologist and educator. Picture: Contributed
Archie McLullich, educational psychologist and educator. Picture: Contributed
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Born: 18 October, 1941 in Ardrishaig, Argyll. Died: 30 December, 2015. Aged 74.

Tributes have been paid to Archie MacLullich, who has died at the age of 74.

“Archie was blessed with an unshakeable faith that people could find the inner strength to overcome whatever challenges and difficulties they faced, and this belief was infectious,” said his son Chris MacLullich, head of programmes in East Africa for charity Mary’s Meals.

“He inspired and supported so many individuals and organisations to take steps to reach their potential. This was a theme that ran like a golden thread throughout his professional life and also with his family and friends.”

Archibald MacLullich’s father, Sandy, was a crofter and a ghillie and his mother, Jean, was the butler in a local estate. When Archie was four, the family moved to Benbecula to take on a croft at Aird which belonged to Jean’s mother. The Hebridean island was to provide a backdrop to many of the important moments in Archie’s life.

He was educated at primary schools on Benbecula and South Uist before starting at Inverness Royal Academy in 1956. He studied agriculture at Glasgow University 1962-65 while also working for the department of agriculture. 1965 saw Archie employed as the biology teacher at Portree High School where he formed the Portree School Folk Club which was attended by two future members of Runrig.

Archie met Claudine Nicolet, a young nurse from Switzerland, whilst she was on holiday in Dunvegan, Skye in 1967. They were married one year later and set up home in the Midlothian town of Penicuik.

Archie soon started a new job as head of assessment at Wellington Residential School for young offenders in Penicuik. Whilst there he established a therapeutic music and drama programme for adolescent boys and introduced teaching of O-grades in the school. He then went on to become depute head of Tynepark Residential School for Girls in Haddington. This was followed by a period managing Ballikinrain Residential School in Balfron until 1976.

Archie MacLullich’s passion for best practice in caring for vulnerable young people led him to pursue the best research. In 1976 he became a senior research fellow in educational psychology at Glasgow University. He was then appointed to the position of senior psychologist at Larchgrove Remand Home in Glasgow, where he worked for three years whilst studying organisational psychology at the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations. In 1980, Archie was recruited as depute director of social work for the Church of Scotland Board of Social Responsibility.

“This exceptionally productive period in my dad’s career when he oversaw the development of 70 residential and day care establishments, led on the care in the community transition process and established new therapeutic programmes for young adults with addictions and individuals living with HIV/Aids,” explained Chris. In fact, Archie was asked to present papers on best practice from this work at the Montreal World Aids Conference as well as other international conferences in Munich and Stockholm.

Employment with Strathclyde Regional Council then followed in 1988 as assistant and then depute director of social work, leading on training, inter-agency planning, formal investigations and research. While there, he was also awarded Citizen of the Year by the Glasgow Muslim Community for his work with ethnic minorities. He then began work as an independent consultant working with various organisations, including the Archdiocese of Glasgow, where he led on significant service reviews. In 1997 Cardinal Thomas Winning appointed him as chair of the board of directors of the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, a post he held for two years.

1998 saw Archie and Claudine MacLullich return to the croft at Aird where he continued his work as an educational psychologist and Claudine became a French teacher for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

After eight years on Benbecula and following retirement, Archie and Claudine moved back to Edinburgh. Archie was also involved in conducting an audit of Gaelic Medium Education for the Bord na Gaidhig and led on establishing a Gaelic Liturgy Group to archive and record Gaelic sacred music, producing the CD Cridhe gu Cridhe. His Christian faith inspired every aspect of his life.

“Archie balanced his active life with contemplation on the Word of God and a daily commitment to prayer and to the Eucharist,” said son Chris.

“He had been brought up in the Church of Scotland and was an Elder of the Presbyterian Church in Haddington for some years. In 1991, though, he was received into the Catholic Church.”

Both Archie and Claudine were members of Focolare. The Catholic movement, founded by Blessed Chiara Lubich in Italy in 1943, has the aim of promoting the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. Archie MacLullich was also politically active throughout his life, first with Labour and for the last 20 years with the SNP. He described himself as an internationalist and a social democrat.

“My dad campaigned for Scottish independence as he believed this would lead to greater social justice, a more ethical foreign policy, and would allow the needs and aspirations of Scottish people to be properly represented in government,” said his son Alasdair MacLullich, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Archie MacLullich is survived by his wife Claudine and their five children – Alasdair, Chris, Deirdre, Sheenagh and David – and nine grandchildren; Maeve, Seonaidh, Dominic, Isobel, Eliane, Sofia, Tony, Sorley and Angela.