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Tributes pour in as Beauly shinty club mourns the death of a legendary figure

By Alasdair Fraser

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Beauly shinty legend Donnie Fraser, as he was as distinguished player in the 1950s and before his death last week
Beauly shinty legend Donnie Fraser, as he was as distinguished player in the 1950s and before his death last week

A village shinty club is mourning the death of one of the most distinguished former players and servants in its history.

Beauly camanachd stalwart Donald J Fraser, best known to friends far and wide as Donnie, passed away last Friday after a short illness.

A prodigious talent and keen goalscorer within the successful young Beauly team that emerged in the 1950s, Mr Fraser remained a loyal supporter and backer of the club.

He continuously served the club as player – up to season 1972/73 – secretary, referee and, up to his death, club chieftain.

Leading tributes, the voice of shinty Hugh Dan MacLennan described Mr Fraser as “a huge figure in Beauly’s history” and "redefined the term 'legend'."

A spokesman for the Mowi Premiership club said: “The club is devastated to hear of the passing of club chieftain Donnie Fraser.

“Donnie was the last surviving link to the successful team of the 1950s and a stalwart at Beauly games.

“He was a true legend of the club.”

In the wake of the Second World War, Beauly shinty enjoyed a renaissance with the emergence of a vibrant young team.

Over a seven-year period, they dominated the junior level of the sport.

Beauly shinty great Donnie Fraser, here at last year's Balliemore Cup Final, was a true legend of the club.
Beauly shinty great Donnie Fraser, here at last year's Balliemore Cup Final, was a true legend of the club.

As those players developed, the club flourished and began to compete with great rivals Lovat who had enjoyed tremendous success at the top level in the post-war era.

During this time, Beauly swept the boards – with the Strathdearn Cup theirs five times, while they finally wrested back The Lovat Cup in 1957.

Mr Fraser was a renowned on-field performer of the era.

Broadcaster, historian and sporting academic Mr MacLennan said: “Donnie Fraser is one of those people involved with shinty clubs who re-define the word ‘legend’.

“His contribution to shinty in Beauly and beyond was simply immense at all sorts of levels, over a very long period of time.

“He was latterly the club chieftain, which was a reflection of the esteem with which he was held by the local community.

“His presence at matches and his general contribution to the Beauly club will be sorely missed and he was always an interested spectator at matches and other events.

“These are difficult times for the Beauly clubs in terms of losses and a number of families have felt significant losses.

“The strength of the community and of the shinty club itself will hopefully help meet these challenges, but there is no doubt that each and every loss is keenly felt.

“Donnie will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.”

A funeral notice said he died peacefully at Raigmore Hospital, after a short illness.

A director of James Fraser & Co Contractors, he was the dearly loved husband of Sheila, much loved dad of Trevor and Nicola, father-in-law to Jean and Ian, much loved grandad to Campbell, Ruairidh, Francesca and Finlay.

He was also great-grandad to Niamh and Amelia and dear brother to Dr Fiona Lyall and the late Christine MacWilliam.

His funeral service will be held on Wednesday, October 4, at 12 noon at Beauly Church of Scotland, before Kilmorack Cemetery.

The notice said all were welcome to attend, with donations invited for Aird Medical Practice and Beauly Shinty Club.

A host of social media messages expressed sadness, describing Mr Fraser as “a lovely man”, a club great and a shinty legend.

Callum McLeod wrote: “Another sad day for the village. Too many being taken too soon.

“Condolences to the family and all at Beauly Shinty Club.”

Kirsteen Maclennan said: “So sorry to hear such tragic news of such an endearing Highland gentleman.

“Our thoughts are with all Donnie’s family at this very sad time.”

John MacLean of Caberfeidh Shinty Club passed on the neighbouring outfit’s condolences, calling Mr Fraser “a true shinty supporter”.

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