Obituary: Dr Graeme Collie, academic, engineer, archaeologist and passionate motorcyclist

Dr Graeme Collie
Dr Graeme Collie
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Engineer, archaeologist, assistant university professor and passionate motorcyclist Dr Graeme Collie died in St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh at the age of 57.

Born in Edinburgh to a family with a proud engineering background, Graeme was educated in Aberdeen before studying biological sciences, then mechanical engineering, at Heriot Watt University.

To widen his knowledge of archaeology, Graeme signed up with the universities of Exeter and Leicester, first of all for an undergraduate diploma, then an MA. He volunteered for archaeology societies, including the Archaeology Service in Falkirk, where he was involved in various dig sites, in particular, the Carriden Roman bath house.

Undaunted by continuing studies, in 2013 he gained his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Heriot Watt. On a memorable day he received his doctorate and the Henry Black Prize alongside his daughter Morven, who is now forging her own career as an engineer. Both graduated on the same day, with Morven gaining her Masters in Mechanical Engineering.

Graeme’s career in the oil industry with FMC Technologies spanned almost three decades. He travelled to many parts of the world, mainly to West African nations such as Republic of Congo, Ghana and Angola. Representing FMC, he spoke at various international conferences and was awarded 12 UK and US patents for work in designing parts for subsea equipment.

After taking early retirement from FMC, he joined the academic staff as an assistant professor at Heriot-Watt in 2016. Prior to that, he held the post of Honorary Research Fellow at the Carbon Capture and Storage group within the university.

From his teenage years Graeme had a deep passion for motorcycling, particularly on classic British bikes and Harley Davidsons, and enjoyed taking part in motocross events and even moped racing.

He had a large collection of motorcycles of all types, and spent endless hours restoring and maintaining them. He also built one-off specials, including a Harley Chop which made the front page of the national motorcycling magazine Back Street Heroes with the spectacular backdrop of the Forth Railway Bridge. Works in progress were a Triton, and a Triumph double engine drag bike.

His love of motorcycles is shared by his son Magnus – who is now a college lecturer, sound engineer and musician – and the pair often shared motocross tracks for off-road sport.

When Magnus developed a keen interest in music he and Graeme realised that no venues or promoters allowed under 18s to play live music. The result was Monochrome Music, initially creating gigs for Magnus’s band and those of his friends.

The concept took off and packed local venues with under-18’s allowed to enjoy up and coming musicians.

After two years there was a small team of promoters, sound engineers, graphic designers and band scouts, with any profits passed on to the bands themselves.

Many of those involved are now in the creative industries, having gained their first foot on the ladder through Monochrome, which came to an end after two years when Magnus started college and Graeme was working abroad extensively.

Magnus has received many messages reflecting the respect and gratitude held for Graeme and the opportunities he created.

Fittingly, Graeme’s funeral in Edinburgh commenced with a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle hearse leading mourners, including fellow bikers on their motorcycles, from Grange Loan to Mortonhall.

Graeme, who died following a short illness, was pre-deceased by his father John, and his sister Susan, who died at the age of 27. He is survived by his mother Jean, sister Vivien, son Magnus, daughter Morven, and granddaughter Ava.

In the past six years Graeme had lived happily with his partner Meng Choo (Jeannie) and her son Marcus.

Gordon Berry.