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
"To me," said Rev Bogle, "Jim Sym was always Mr Maybole."
Born in March 1929, Jim attended
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
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.