The Camanachd Association has confirmed the passing of one of its most distinguished representatives and former Presidents, John Willie Campbell of Errogie near Inverness.
He was in his eighties and died in Inverness on Saturday afternoon after a long illness bravely borne. John Willie, as he was universally known, was born and brought up in Skye, where he received his first education. From there, he went to University in Glasgow where he played for the Varsity and was awarded a Blue. A long career in teaching in Inverness followed but it is as a broadcaster he will be most widely and fondly remembered having reported and commentated on the playing side of the game for the BBC from 1968 to 1991, including the day Skye Camanachd won the Camanachd Cup in Fort William in 1990. He provided results for BBC Scotland, BBC Highland and Gaelic radio and television throughout that time, as well as writing for national newspapers such as the Scotsman and Sunday Post, and a huge range of local newspapers such as the Press and Journal, Highland News, and West Highland Free Press. In his daily life he was an educationalist in several schools in the Inverness area, notable Millburn Academy in Inverness where he master-minded time-tabling amongst other things, Inverness Royal Academy and the Crown School. He chaired the local Community Council and was a Justice of the Peace. He has left a record of the game which is incomparable in the form of results of matches and competitions extending throughout his media career which is held in the Highland Archive in Inverness. He became known as shinty’s Bill McLaren” and the Voice of Shinty through his radio work and distinctive presentation and delivery. He was a man who place his family and his faith above all else and will be sorely missed, one of the most distinguished servants of the sport and heritage of the Highlands, ever.
Camanachd Association Tribute:
President Keith Loades said: “John Willie Campbell was one of the most significant figures in shinty in the 20th century. He served the game in every capacity from his boyhood as a player in Skye, through University to the full range of administrative duties and responsibilities imaginable. Within the game he will be remembered as a distinguished President who navigated some quite stormy waters in the 1980s and faced many challenges with a calm and dignified manner throughout. He would never have been happier than the day Skye Camanachd won the Camanachd cup in 1990. Beyond the confines of the shinty communities, John Willie was, also, one of the best-known voices in Scottish broadcasting and an outstanding chronicler of the game’s playing side. There are many people who knew little of shinty itself but were regular devotees of his results reporting on BBC Scotland of a Saturday evening and his contributions to BBC Highland and Gaelic radio and television in a career which spanned over 20 years, beginning in 1968 and ending in 1991. And all of that whilst contributing enormously to shinty in schools in the Inverness area. He has left us a remarkable legacy in the shape of his records of the sport throughout his media career. The Camanachd Association and shinty in general will be forever in his debt and his passing marks the end of an era and a contribution to our sport and heritage which is unlikely to be matched. The sympathy of the Association and its members, and the wider shinty community is extended to Margaret in Errogie, his son Donald in Edinburgh and daughter Shona in Inverness, his grandchildren and the extended family and friends in Skye and elsewhere. Fois is sìth dha.”
A full tribute to John Willie, marking his outstanding contribution to shinty and Highland life is being prepared.
Details of the funeral will be made available in due course