Born: 17 August, 1941, in Fauldhouse, West Lothian. Died: 7 October, 2014, in Edinburgh, aged 73
TOM Flynn’s vocation in life was to care for others. First as a nurse and then, for 38 years, as a faithful priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
He was born to Hugh and Agnes Flynn in the West Lothian mining village of Fauldhouse in 1941.
Tom attended the local St John the Baptist Primary School before becoming one of the first intake at Scotus Academy, a newly established private boys school in Edinburgh run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
His naturally caring nature led him to pursue a career in nursing despite it, at that time, being an overwhelmingly female profession. Tom qualified in 1963 as a Registered General Nurse at Bangour General Hospital in West Lothian. It wasn’t long before Nurse Flynn made his mark.
In 1969, Tom made national headlines after developing a new method of treating those with severe burns. His specially adapted hospital bed enabled bandages and dressings to be changed without the patient being moved.
He later patented his design, which attracted global interest from healthcare companies worldwide. It has since become a standard fixture in hospitals across the globe.
A year later, however, Tom discerned that his caring vocation was leading him towards the priesthood and he entered the seminary at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange in Roxburghshire. Father Flynn was duly ordained in 1976. In the following decades he was to serve in a total of seven parishes across the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh with his latter 16 years as parish priest of St Theresa’s Church in East Calder, in his native West Lothian.
Tom’s effectiveness in tending to souls was in part due to his unvarnished honesty as regards his own frailties. He was always open about his status as a “recovering alcoholic” who had been greatly helped by the Castle Craig Hospital in Peeblesshire. He would subsequently volunteer there as a counsellor to those still struggling with alcohol addiction. Indeed, a sensitivity for those on the margins of society became a hallmark of his ministry.
Fr Flynn also had a mischievous sense of humour. He delighted in teasing his altar servers with a professed love for none other than Rangers Football Club.
All who knew him could testify to Tom’s great diligence in his pastoral duties. They could also testify to his love of technology. One former parishioner, who would often find Tom re-engineering the parish electrics, affectionately dubbed him “Father Gadget”.
Tom Flynn was a private person who was oft times anti-authoritarian. He was also a very generous man who garnered the love of generations of parishioners and friends. Thankfully some of them were with him when he died in Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.