In Memory of Alan Murray
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Alan Murray

April 20, 1949 – June 13, 2015


The Carrick Centre in Maybole was packed last week for the funeral of Alan Murray. Rev Richard Moffat conducted the service and four friends of Alan paid their own individual tributes to him.


Each added that that they could only cover parts of his life, acknowledging that many others all had their own story to tell of a man who was held in the highest esteem by those who knew him.


Tributes included “Alan was a deeply devoted and a very proud family man”; “a great public speaker”; “He always looked for the best attributes in people, and was quick to praise and slow to criticise”; “He gave willingly of his time, effort and energy, to many endeavours and causes”; “He was too full of fun, too full of life, too full of love to settle only for tears”; “A very unique and very special man”.


Alan had come to work in Ayrshire for Ayr County Council in 1971 after graduating From Jordanhill College. He took up a post as a Community Worker in Carrick area with the forward looking Community Development Service.


During his career he held various roles including Assistant Principal Officer with Ayr Division of Strathclyde Regional council; Team Leader in Community Education with East Ayrshire Council; and Head of Community Planning with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, before “retiring” in 2011. Alan was also a councillor with South Ayrshire Council from 1999 until 2007, holding various posts including Community Services Convener and Education Convener.


Latterly, Alan worked part time for the Carrick Centre and was responsible for the strategic development of the Centre. A major part of this work involved looking for funding in support of current activities and future development. Jim Strang spoke of Alan’s happy childhood growing up in Copland Road close to Ibrox Stadium until around the age of 11, when the family moved to Woodfoot Road, in South Nitshill.


As a young boy Alan joined, and later became an NCO in, the 265th Boy's Brigade Company, going to various summer camps where he had great fun. He also joined the Levern and Nitshill Parish Church of Scotland youth fellowship group. In his early twenties he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain, before switching a few years later to the Labour Party because of his socially inclusive beliefs. After school, Alan worked as a lab technician, before going to Jordanhill College where he graduated in Youth and Community Education.  Alan and his wife Kathleen married on December 14, 1974, setting up home in Maybole where their children Gregor, Helen and Alison were born.


Jim described Alan as “a deeply devoted and very proud family man. His life revolved around his cherished family. Alan’s grandchildren Calum, Ewan, Holly and Sophie were an integral part of his life and time spent with them was precious to him. He was very proud of them, supporting, and encouraging them in whatever endeavours they undertook; be it sport, leisure or education.” Jim recounted some humorous and affectionate stories of time spent with the man he described as his best friend.


Ron Culley, former chief executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, added, “Even though the journey we had with him has ended, all of our memories will never fade away as long as we remember the bond that we each shared with him.” Ron first met Alan when, aged 20, they became students at Jordanhill College of Education. Together, they ran the Jordanhill Folk Club with Alan responsible for booking 'the turns' as he insisted on calling them. They booked all the big Scottish folk singers of the day like Archie Fisher, Alex Campbell, The Battlefield Band, Mick Broderick and the Whistlebinkies and many others. Famously, Alan rejected Isla St Clair, who found fame and fortune on The Generation Game, and Barbara Dickson. “We often wondered how their careers might have progressed had only Alan booked them for the Jordanhill Folk Club back in 1970,” said Ron.


Roy Birnie spoke of his deep sadness at losing “a very dear friend” and shared some of his memories of “a very unique and very special man”. He added that Alan had been a huge part of his life for the all of the 40 plus years he had been in Maybole.  Roy spoke of family holidays together and their involvement in the world of education. “Alan’s many great qualities were clearly evident,” he said. “He was an innovator, a real forward thinker who was genuinely and fully committed to providing for every young person; long before “equality of opportunity” joined the list of buzz words.” “Alan was my boss for a while when he was Convener of Education,” Roy continued, “and he was hugely successful in that role. As you might imagine, his style was markedly different from that of many, if not all, who had come before him and he was like a breath of fresh air.


“Rugby was a huge part of Alan’s life and he played at Cartha, Ayr and Cumnock before deciding that Maybole should have its very own club. Alan was the founder member of Carrick Rugby.  Alan was hugely proud of the Rugby Club and it is most fitting that he was a key part of the journey from its humble beginnings to the phenomenon that it now is.”


Roy spoke of Alan’s love of attending the Men’s Health Forum and added, “Among Alan’s most endearing characteristics were that he was very self-effacing, he did not take himself too seriously and he did not mind in the least sharing humour at his own expense.  “He was a true and trusted friend to so many. Alan’s achievements are such that it can truly be said that he has left a real legacy to the town he loved so much. His true legacy is perhaps best expressed in terms of his humanity, his essential goodness.  “In the last few days people have said to me how he will be missed because of his wiseness, his ability to keep calm while all around were losing the plot, his ability to bring good common sense to proceedings.  “People trusted that Alan would be able to get things done; set things right; his counsel was sought and valued by many.” 


David Kiltie spoke of Alan’s early days in Maybole as a community worker who was only really meant to be here for a few years; as the idea was that community workers would move into an area, develop the community, then move on to somewhere else to develop that community.


During those early years, Alan was instrumental in the success of a number of organisations.


One of the earliest was Carrick Youth Panel, bringing together young people from all over Carrick; encouraging youth clubs and inter-club events. There were also many successful events for youth leaders such as Burns Suppers. Alan went on to be in great demand for many Burns Suppers; even right up to this year when he was really not well. He revelled in performing.


For many young people going away for weekends was an important part of their life experiences. Many of them in Carrick of a certain generation will have their own memories of Alan; of time spent at Loch Doon (Craigmalloch), or youth exchanges to France, or his entertaining antics on father/children camping weekends with the Round Table.


Carrick Community Transport Group was started by Carrick Youth Panel as well as Maybole, Girvan and Dunure Community Councils with the aid of a joint community council grant of £27,000 from Strathclyde Regional Council. The group went on to become an integral part of Carrick's infrastructure. Maybole Community was set up in 1975 taking over Maybole Town Council's Attractions Committee's function of organising galas, concerts, etc.


The Association gradually added on a slightly different role of taking up issues in the town and when community councils were being proposed, the Association met with neighbouring villages to discuss the way forward and liaise on boundaries. Alan also helped Clyde Fair International bring entertainment to the town.


He played a major role in all this, providing advice as well as secretarial support in an age without mobile phones, email, internet, computers etc.  When the first meeting of Maybole Community Council was called in June 1977, more than half the members were on both organisations - which caused a few problems. Alan wrote the first draft of a paper spelling out how the two groups could work separately and collectively for the good of the town.


Working with the Community Council, Alan became involved in a number of projects such as creating a Youth Development Team to liaise with Carrick Academy, Social Work, Police, Community Education etc. on youth issues; running a summer play scheme for primary children, including cycle proficiency; forming a junior CC, an idea coming back into focus with discussions on a local Youth Forum. Due to his job, Alan was not always an official member of many of the groups but he was always there providing guidance and support. The community council also conducted a survey - drawn up by Alan - to find out people’s views on a range of subjects and this became a development plan for the new century.


David spoke of how, in June 1981, Alan, Don Raby, Pipe Major Jim Sym and he made the first exploratory trip to the French town of Crosne, near Paris, to discuss the possibility of the two towns twinning and in 1982 official documents were signed in Crosne and Maybole. By that time Alan was chairman of the Twinning Association which went on, with later chairs, to twin with Beloeil (Belgium), and Schotten (Germany). These three towns had other twins in places such as the Czech Republic and Italy; Maybole really became part of an international family.


David then read out a tribute to Alan signed by Michel Berson, a senator in the French Parliament, Honorary Mayor of Crosne, and Honorary President of the Twinning Committee; Marylène Laug, former Deputy Mayor; Christine Vignot, responsible for the Maybole side of the twinning, and Daniel Robin, President of the twinning and the friends of Crosne.


They wrote, “Saying goodbye to a friend is to pay a tribute marked with deep emotion. Alan, we have known you from the beginnings of our twinning; you were a member of that first delegation. Immediately, you enjoyed the people of Crosne who were very proud to welcome you. Very soon you started to sing Scottish songs we did not know. And as you had a beautiful voice our city lived under the charm of Scotland. You had become "our new kids” of twinning.


“Thirty three years ago, you became a friend of the people of Crosne. You have honoured us with your presence at many events in Crosne. The people of Crosne were very happy to meet you in Maybole. “Today, you are not with us anymore, but you are still with us in our hearts, in the hearts of all the people of Crosne as well as in the hearts of your family and friends.” Alan was also involved with May-Tag Ltd which was set up in 1988 as a response by Maybole Community Council to high unemployment. He was involved for many of those years and was a current director.


At various times, he was closely connected to Signposts, the Charity Shop, Maybole Resource Centre, Maybole Community Development Group, Maybole One Stop Shop and South Ayrshire Social Enterprise Network. Alan was involved at a very early stage with Pathfinder, a project about the future management and delivery of leisure services in the area. He became a member of the working group which worked with South Ayrshire Council officers on how to ensure better use of local resources.


David spoke about Alan’s heavy involvement with a project to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Maybole being created a burgh in 1516. “Alan had applied for funding to employ a consultant,” he said, “and my last involvement with him was to interview potential contractors for the work. He even chaired a meeting in early April for me when I was ill – little did we know how ill Alan was.” Alan had also taken on responsibility for regeneration projects and when Maybole High Street shop fronts were refurbished it was he who had applied for the funding and coordinated the project.


He also played a major role in the recent Charrette project to plan for after a bypass. Alan became involved in The Carrick Centre project a number of years ago and latterly worked part time for the Centre; being responsible for its strategic development. Part of this work involved looking for funding in support of current activities and future development.


He was also involved in developing partnerships with public and voluntary organisations.


Board members had told David that “all of those involved are bereft at the thought that they have lost his services so suddenly.


“His unfailing enthusiasm for the Centre and his commitment to it have been nothing short of inspirational. “His knowledge and skill, his contacts in the business and his dedication to grant seeking have been incredible and he has, in a very real sense, been central to making the Centre the busy, caring and enjoyable place it is today. “They say that nobody is indispensable; but we at the Centre must now hope that Alan is not the exception that proves the rule.”

 Many other groups have reason to thank Alan for helping them to get funds. Youth and community were at the heart of everything he did and were a huge part of who he was.


David read out other tributes:

“He had a sound vision for improvements to life in Maybole, a great network of friends and colleagues to access suitable funding, and a willingness to put in the hard work and commitment needed to follow through. “His sterling work in finding funding for the Carrick Centre and its continuing prosperity; the many years he served as a director with May-Tag Ltd, and his ongoing commitment to the Community Council bore much fruit, gained him great respect and ensure that he will be well and truly missed by the community of which he was such an effective part.”


“Alan was a wonderful colleague who had a zest for life and always got the job done. His contribution to the community of Maybole and the Carrick Centre in particular is a long lasting legacy to the vision, passion and commitment of a true local champion.” Lord Foulkes, former MP for this area, wrote “Both Liz and I admired his work as a Councillor and his contribution to Education, and I appreciated his loyalty over many years.” Liz was South Ayrshire Provost Elizabeth Foulkes.


Mark Fletcher wrote, “Alan was a valued member of Maybole Community Council and his vast experience will be greatly missed. Alan was usually the voice of reason round the table; often diffusing difficult discussions with simple logic. “His love of the town that he moved to all of those years ago was without question; and his commitment to the community was admirable.


“Alan was a major asset to the community council as he was to many other groups and we will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathleen and the family at this time.” Alan is survived by his wife Kathleen, son Gregor, daughters Helen and Alison, and grandchildren Calum, Ewan, Holly and Sophie.


He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.

  See Allan Murray's personal profile from some years pass here