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Tributes to 106-year-old Tom - a great Ross-shire man who inspired many

By SPP Reporter

Tom MacIver pictured celebrating his 106th birthday last year
Tom MacIver pictured celebrating his 106th birthday last year

WARM tributes were paid this week to 106-year-old Ross-shire gent Tom MacIver, described as a great man who will live long in the collective memory of the Highlands.

Mr MacIver from Muir of Ord, who celebrated his 106th birthday last June and achieved the distinction of being Scotland’s oldest man, slipped away gently in his sleep last Friday during a lie down after lunch while in respite care in Kingussie.

His funeral will be held today (Friday) at Kiltearn Parish Church in the village of Evanton, where he lived for 40 years.

The great-grandfather was born on June 13, 1907 in Coigach, Wester Ross, and his enthusiasm for life saw him dedicate his time to being a family man, teacher, further education officer, founder of the Ross-shire branch of the Liberal Party and a community activist.

Mr MacIver, who lived with his daughter Mairi, also enjoyed many pastimes including reciting humorous poems, golf and sailing, and was awarded an MBE.

During one of his many interviews with the Ross-shire Journal he said “he never dreamt” that as a young man he would live long enough to gain the title of Scotland’s oldest man.

He also credited his long, varied life to “refusing to go to seed” during his 43-year retirement.

Mr MacIver is survived by his three children – Mairi, Iain and Colin – as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His family paid a moving tribute yesterday to their father in a statement which read: “He will be remembered for his prodigious memory and wide range of interests, which allowed him to engage so easily with people of all ages.

“Any topic of conversation would elicit a quotation or turn into a fascinating history lesson.

“There was always a twinkle in his eye and he was a very supportive father. He always took a great interest in the education and wellbeing of all the family.

“Having lost our mother so young we were so fortunate that he lived to such a remarkable age. He is irreplaceable and will be hugely missed by us all.”

One of Tom’s great lifelong passions was politics and he formed a county branch of the Liberal Party when he returned to work in Ross-shire in the 1950s.

Liberal Democrat MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber Charles Kennedy said he had never known anyone quite like Mr MacIver.

“Tom’s death is incredibly sad for me, as along with a small handful of people such as John Farquhar Munro and the late Harry Miller, Tom was absolutely crucial to my success in my first election in 1983,” he said.

“The way Tom threw his enthusiastic, cheerful and hard-working support behind the campaign helped turn an impossibly difficult task in to a historic result.

“Since then Tom’s combination of wisdom and wry humour was something special that I and fellow Liberal Democrats across the north of Scotland came to value.

“I have never known anyone quite like Tom. For this reason he’ll be hugely missed, but so great a man was he that I have no doubt he will live on in the collective memory of the Highlands for a very long time indeed.”

Highland councillor and former Lib Dem MSP Jamie Stone described Mr MacIver as a true friend who had encouraged him “to go for Holyrood”.

“I found Tom truly inspirational,” he said. “He was remarkable in that he kept the small Liberal light shining during the bad decades when the Tories and SNP rampaged through Ross-shire and the Liberal party was almost extinguished. For that he will always have a special place in my heart.”

Mr MacIver had lived through 37 British Governments and four coronations in his life and was middle-aged when the Queen came to the throne.

Born at Achduart — the name of his Muir of Ord home – where his mother was a teacher, Mr MacIver moved down when he was 14 to go to Ullapool secondary school before studying for an arts degree at Glasgow University.

His first teaching post after graduating was in Plockton and after his marriage to his wife Anne he moved to Kyle, where he was appointed headteacher.

He later took up a headteacher’s post at Bridge of Marnoch in Banffshire.

For a short spell Mr MacIver was further education officer for Skye before moving to take up the same role for Ross-shire.

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