In Memory of Jim Sym
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Jim Sym was a former member of the Maybole Pipe Band.

Jim Sym, well known Maybole resident, died Dec 2002. Details below.
 Photo at left by George Dunabie.  Photo below by Fred Westcott.

Photo of Jim Sym taken by Fred Westcott on the Saturday before he died.

Maybole paid its final respects last week to one of its best known residents.

Jim Sym, former pipe major with the local pipe band, had been walking his dog at Culzean a few days earlier when he suddenly collapsed and died.

Maybole Pipe Band provided a poignant escort to the cortege as it approached Masonhill Crematorium where it was standing room only and Rev Tom Bogle described Jim as well known in the community as a good friend and neighbour.

"To me," said Rev Bogle, "Jim Sym was always Mr Maybole."

Born in March 1929, Jim attended Carrick Academy until he was 14 years old, then spent a year at trade school. He attended Cargill Church Sunday School and bible class and joined that church.

He was also a Cub and Scout with the 7th Ayrshire troop and became assistant to Rev Douglas who was in charge of the troop.

When he was 14 Jim joined Maybole Pipe Band and at 15 he started as an apprentice baker in Kirkwood’s bakery.

Soon after he married Majie, he left baking and worked for his father-in-law before moving on to contracting work with his own lorry and later as a telephone engineer. He suffered from a stroke in 1990 when he had to give up work and his beloved pipe band, although he recovered eventually to return as one of the band.

Jim and Majie had a caravan at the shore for more than 50 years and he was one of the legendary Shore Boys who meet there every Monday. He was also a member of the Greenside Gang which came to the rescue of Maybole Pipe Band in the early 1940s.

At that time, due to the war, bandsmen were very scarce. Three of the boys learned the drums. Jim and Tom Cook learned the pipes and were playing with the band in about three months.

During his National Service he swapped Maybole Pipe Band for the Royal Scots Fusiliers’ band. Jim returned to Maybole Pipe Band in the 1950s, becoming Pipe Major in the 60s. He was also personal piper to President Eisenhower when he stayed at Culzean

According to Tom Cook it was a very, very difficult time. "The fact that Maybole Pipe Band exists today," he said, "is very much to do with the determination, loyalty and skill which Jim showed over more than fifty years."

"Over the years Jim built up the numbers, created confidence and gave the band a bit of style. He took the band from being in the doldrums to being a success," he added. "Jim Sym was by far the most successful Pipe Major the band ever had."

As well as interests which included his grandchildren, Maybole Shore, his dogs, Carrick Speakers Club, fishing and Maybole Juniors, Jim was involved with town twinning for over twenty years. He was one of the first to visit Crosne, France, on an exploratory visit in 1981, attended the signing ceremony the following year and was delighted to make the 20th anniversary trip last May. He was a great ambassador for Maybole and Scotland, visiting other towns Maybole is linked with and the Pipe Band became affectionately known as "Jimmy’s band" when abroad.

Rev Bogle paid tribute to Jim’s skill as a piping tutor saying, "Maybole will be a poorer place without him but thank God he taught so many, that what he offered to the town can be passed on. He had the great gift of all good teachers and that is the ability to enthuse his pupils so that they stay keen for the rest of their lives."

Jim is survived by his wife, his three daughters, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His family would like to thank everyone who tried to help him when he collapsed at Culzean and afterwards at the hospital.

Former Pipe Major Jim Sym still has a few lessons for Fanch Goebel and Robert Carpentier, pipers with Paris & District Pipe Band. 20th Twining Anniversary.

Jim Sym has led Maybole Pipe Band at past celebrations in Crosne. This year he found himself in front of different kinds of musicians

May 29, 1982 Mayor of Crosne presents the key of Crosne to David Kiltie.. pictured in back is Pipe Major Jim Sym. Twinning Agreement - Crosne France  1982