Obituary: Kenneth Borthwick, former Lord Provost of Edinburgh and 1986 Commonwealth Games chairman

Kenneth Borthwick CBE, DL has died at the age of 101. He was born in Leith in 1915 and was educated firstly at Hermitage Park Primary School and then at George Heriot's School as a Foundationer following the early demise of his father.
Kenneth Borthwick, former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 101Kenneth Borthwick, former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 101
Kenneth Borthwick, former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, has died at the age of 101

He joined the Aberdeen Police Force at 19 and, apart from his war service as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, he served for 12 years, becoming a uniformed sergeant.

He emigrated to South Africa in 1947 but returned to the UK nine years later to educate his three children as he was very much opposed to the existing apartheid regime. He entered local politics in Edinburgh in 1956 and served both in the Lothian Region and the Edinburgh City as a councillor, magistrate and Lord Provost. He was chairman of the Civic Amenities Committee largely responsible for the modernisation of the Meadowbank Sports Centre and the creation of the Commonwealth Pool and the Hillend Ski Slope.

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On leaving the council in 1980 he became Honorary Consul in Scotland for Malawi and became Dean of the Edinburgh and Leith Consular Corps. He also served as a JP.

He contributed much to the recreational life of the city and was appointed Chairman of the 1986 Commonwealth Games, but was to be sorely tested by the boycott by many of the Commonwealth countries who chose to stay away to register their opposition to the regime in South Africa and their disapproval of the British Government’s refusal to impose sanctions on the South African government.

Despite the difficulties, however, the Games did go ahead and, although depleted, the sporting chain remained unbroken.

His wife, Irene, and he married in 1942 and their marriage was broken only by her passing after 67 years together. His eldest son, Gilroy, was a talented winger for many years in Scottish rugby.

He is survived by his two other children, Jean and Andrew, both of whom reside in Edinburgh and have been his constant aides and companions for many years.