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Obituary: community activist and nature lover David Paterson

This opinion piece is almost 7 years old

Sally Hall pays tribute to the founder of Avondale Community Beekeepers, who passed last week

He was a man who wore many hats, the best of which was a distinctive bunnet.

David (Davy) Paterson, who died aged 58 last week from cancer, will best be remembered – not as a fashion icon – but as a man who served his community, enthusing others to care for the environment and making people feel part of something bigger, more connected, than the daily routine of life.

Born in Glasgow, the eldest of four, David’s family moved to East Kilbride and he attended Hunter Primary School in the town. He then moved on to Duncanrig High School and chose a career as a paper merchant, later attending the Glasgow College of Building and Printing in the early 1980s. He stayed in that industry, latterly working for EBB paper in Hillington, Glasgow.

He married Margaret Harris and the couple had two children – Michael and Marianne. There followed a dark period in his life, where David became reliant on alcohol and the couple subsequently divorced.

In his 30s he successfully overcame his alcoholism, helping many others in the years that followed to do the same.

Finding Rose, whom he would marry in 1998, began a whole new chapter in Davy’s life. His family grew as he gained stepchildren Stephen, Mark and Paul. The couple honeymooned in New York where Davy was able to embrace his passion for jazz music.

He was a well-read and intelligent man who loved a good book, stargazing, Partick Thistle FC and nature.

He was something of an expert on mushrooms and a keen fisherman, holding significant posts at the Scottish Anglers National Association, River Clyde

Management Trust, Avon Angling Club and Strathaven Town Group. He was a believer that if you needed something done “ask a busy person” – which meant he often ended up with a tonne of tasks to do. And he was the man behind Avondale Community Beekeepers, ensuing the local populace were informed about the importance of bees whilst establishing a number of hives across the area. This was, as he always stressed: “Just a wee bit of fun.”

Davy’s biggest attribute was to be inclusive, regardless of age, ability or background. He was a big fish. Sadly, one that got away

But it was human nature that Davy understood the best. With his wicked sense of humour he understood how to engage and involve people in projects, especially children and young people. Many fishing on the banks of the Avon first fell in love with the past-time when Davy took them for that first fishing trip. There are many young beekeepers donning suits and inspecting hives today thanks to his infectious passion for beekeeping.

One story which sums him up was that of three young beekeepers who, upon losing a hive to wasps, collected £8.50 pocket money between them to save for a new colony of bees. Not only did Davy find the extra money from local businesses to cover the new colony, he kept the trio in the loop the whole time saying they’d ‘inspired’ him to sort it out. They felt pretty special, a skill Davy was great at – allowing everyone to participate.

Davy was integral to Avondale Community Beekeeper’s winning Big Lottery bid as he was the first one to volunteer to talk to local schoolchildren, with Rose and the bees in tow and ensured local schools had the tools and resources to plant flowers and learn about bees.

Councillor Margaret Cooper nominated him for Community Volunteer of the Year in 2014 for outstanding community service, and on hearing of his illness First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote to thank him for his contribution to Strathaven and beyond.

They rightly knew that Davy’s biggest attribute was to be inclusive, regardless of age, ability or background. He was a big fish. Sadly, one that got away.

Davy leaves wife Rose, children Michael and Marianne, Stephen, Mark and Paul. He is survived by his mother, sister Lorna and brothers Colin and Bruce. His funeral will be held at 9.30am at South Lanarkshire Crematorium with the reception at the Buck’s Head Hotel. Donations to Cancer Research welcome.



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Paul Gemmell
almost 7 years ago
Best man I've ever met. Inspired me in so many ways and will be sorely missed. Such a sad sad loss
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Margaret Turner
almost 7 years ago
Lovely man who will be sadly missed xxx
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robert harris
almost 7 years ago
david was my son in law for many years,i knew him as a teenager courting my eldest daughter Margaret i took to him immediately,he was witty,articulate,intelligent and held an opinion on almost any subject.he confroted a great obstacle in his life,conquered it,with strength and dignity,to go on to provide a shining light for so many people.i was priveliged to know david over so many years,i will miss him but iwill not forget him
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Valerie Biladeau
almost 7 years ago
I have so many special memories of my fabulous big cousin, namely family Christmases at the Currie household when we were young. David,you will never be forgotten. Spread your wings and fly free. Til we meet again. Valerie
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Robert Peacock
almost 7 years ago
A lovely tribute. I didn't know him, but sounds like he touched lots of lives.
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George newall
almost 7 years ago
Remember our chats at modo great guy nothing to do with paper just fishing being a gillie and of course horse racing with Paul
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Kenny Hunter
almost 7 years ago
Farewell Davy, my old friend. It was a privilege to have known you and to have shared a part of your life. You were always unique, a free spirit; in musical tastes, hobbies and fitba’ teams you were always your own man. I can still see you clad in that corduroy jacket with the fur collar (the one I later copied), the wooly tammy, desert boots and Partick Thistle scarf, whistling, drawing on a Players No. 6 and talking about Paul Kossof, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and dialectical materialism. Always different, always popular with everyone who met you, you introduced me to Bob Dylan, Free, The Allman Brothers Band, JRR Tolkien and Players No. 6! Your generosity, friendly personality and sharp intellect stood you out from the crowd but you were always down to earth, never aloof; always everybody’s friend.I hadn’t seen you for many years and it is a regret that I never caught up with you again. Today I cried (I think it was ‘Our House’ by CSNY that did it), during the very warm and deserved tribute through which your humanity, humour and kindness shone through. It was a joy and an inspiration to hear of how you courageously turned your life around after the dark years and became once again the inspiring, giving, thoughtful, loving, family oriented and community spirited colossus of a human being that we all knew and loved. The world is indeed a much better place for you having been in it.
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Michael waite
almost 7 years ago
Great bloke who inspired and encouraged all those around him and made everyone feel part of something special in only away he could. Will be missed greatly.
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