Scotsman Obituaries: Iain Duncan, businessman, magistrate and sportsman

Iain Duncan, businessman, Justice of the Peace and keen sportsman. Born: 4 April 1942 in Aberdeen. Died: 14 March 2022, aged 79

Iain Duncan worked tirelessly for his local community
Iain Duncan worked tirelessly for his local community

The sudden death of Iain Duncan on 14 March 2022, only a few weeks before his 80th birthday, has profoundly shocked his family and his very many friends all over the country, but few more so than the people of Strathkinness – a community Iain served as secretary to the Community Council for over 30 years.

Iain was born in Aberdeen on 4 April 1942, the elder son of Ethel and Andrew Duncan, brother to Evelyn and Andrew.

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In December of that year his father’s work for the Department of Agriculture took the family to East Fife where Iain would live all his life – first of all in Ceres from 1942-1951, then in Craigrothie House.

He attended Ceres Primary School and Bell Baxter High School and on leaving school at 16 was accepted as a cadet in London’s Metropolitan Police.

While in London he ran for Torch Athletic Club and was in advanced coaching for international 100m/200m sprint events with the target of qualifying for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Sadly, his Olympic dream and police career were both brought to an abrupt end with the discovery of a cancerous tumour on his shin bone. After surgery he returned to Craigrothie and, despite this being a time of high unemployment, he declared he would find work somewhere, signed on with the Cupar Labour Exchange and accepted the only job on offer that week – porter at Springfield Station!

This turned out to be an extraordinary turning point in Iain’s life since at Springfield Station there was a large siding for wagons for the nationwide distribution of the famous Scott’s Porage Oats and not long after he was offered a job in their transport and distribution department. Iain had found his métier.

While living at Craigrothie Iain, then 15, met 14-year-old Sheila McGown from St Andrews at Barbarafield riding school.

They married in 1964 and settled into their first home on Sunnyside, Strathkinness, and on 17 December 1967, the size of the Duncan family doubled in a day when twins Andrew and Fiona arrived.

In 1965 he was appointed transport manager for Danskin’s Transport Services – the haulage and distribution company based there, and which Iain eventually co-owned.

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Iain gained further experience in this field with United Freight Distribution and Pollock Transport, retiring in 2009.

With his innate ability to communicate at all levels, he was the ideal on-site contract manager, working all over the UK with, for instance, Sonae at Knowsley on Merseyside, Federal Tait at Inverurie, Baxters of Fochabers and Glenmorangie at Broxburn.

Iain was a keen follower of sport and was proud to have served as President of Howe of Fife Rugby Club between 1991 and 1993. His long association with the Howe was marked by a minute’s silence before the game on Saturday 19 March.

During the 1980s and 1990s Iain completed fundraising marathons as a member of the Radio Tay team, where he opened the station’s weekend programming and presented quiz shows and travel programmes.

His association with Radio Tay built upon a love of music kindled when working at Collets, a record store in New Oxford Street, London, that specialised in jazz, folk and blues.

Always a very keen cyclist, Iain took up the hobby in earnest after he retired.

Every day for Iain began with a ten-mile cycle ride no matter the weather, and his enthusiasm for cycling led him, aged 67, to take up the challenge of riding a stage of the Tour de France – a notoriously tough stage of 170km with a gruelling finish on Mont Ventoux in Provence.

Iain not only completed the stage in blistering heat with the surface temperature at 50 degrees Celsius but, on finally arriving at the last watering station to find that there was no water, he used his emergency funds to buy bottles of beer to distribute amongst other thirsty cyclists!

Iain was widely respected as a community stalwart in Strathkinness. In addition to serving on the Community Council he was instrumental in setting up the Strathkinness Community Trust to promote a sense of well-being and community in the village.

The Trust oversees the Community Garden, Jubilee Orchard and the village green.

Building on the success of these initiatives the Trust later acquired Bishop’s Wood, one of Fife’s best examples of natural birch woodland, in 2016, and the old phone box, now Gallery 201, in 2017.

Iain worked tirelessly towards making the village a better place, always with a smile on his face and time for a chat.

He served as a Justice of the Peace for 26 years, retiring in 2012. During his last years as a magistrate he chaired the Justices Committee.

Iain is survived by his wife Sheila, son Andrew and daughter Fiona, sister Evelyn and brother Andrew, and granddaughters Kirsty and Carys.

On 8 April there will be a private family service at Dundee Crematorium to be followed by a service of thanksgiving for Iain’s life in St Mark’s Church, St Mary’s Place, St Andrews, beginning at 1.30pm.

There will be a retiring collection at this service in aid of the Strathkinness Community Trust.


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