Boat club loses founding father Freddie, aged 101

FREDDIE Free, a founding member of Cramond Boat Club, has died at the age of 101.

Cramond Boat Club has lost its oldest and longest-serving member.

Freddie Free helped set up the organisation in 1934 and friends have paid tribute to the "quiet man" who despite having a love for sailing, never learned to swim.

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Born in Cramond in 1908 Mr Free, one of eight children, left school and joined the Whiteford Butchers at the age of 14.

After meeting wife Agnes he moved to work with her in the fruit and vegetable business in Bruntsfield.

It was there he became acquainted with his friend David Gillon in 1954 after his wife suggested the two went sailing together.

"He was never happier than when he was out on the water," said Mr Gillon, who remained in touch with him right up to his death last month.

"He was a quiet man and had a great love of water and sailing. He could tell you everything about the tide at Cramond and the local wildlife.

"Those were his main loves, and even though he spent so much time on the water he never actually learned to swim."

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Freddie had an elder brother whom he never met, who was also called Frederick, but he drowned before Mr Free was born.

Even though he was given the same name, his father could never bear to call him by it, and instead always referred to him as "the boy Free".

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He and his wife did not have any children, and when Agnes died 22 years ago there were concerns as to whether or not Freddie would be able to survive.

"I always remember his wife saying she hoped he would go before her because there's no way he would cope on his own," said Mr Gillon.

"But as it happened he was absolutely fine, he adapted, and up until a couple of months before his death he was preparing all his own meals, until we insisted that he get someone in to help out."

Despite being a founding member of the club, it was the boating element rather than the committee-running side he was fond of.

Mr Gillon said: "He never took any interest in that side of things at all, he simply wanted to be out there on the water.

"Once we took his boat, named Freda, over to the west coast of Scotland where we sailed up as far as Tobermory.

"He was in his eighties when his legs became so bad he could not get in and out of a small vessel, and it was with great reluctance that he gave that up."

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