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Aberdeen judo legend and community stalwart, Bill Berry, dies aged 85

Aberdeen Judo legend Bill Berry has died aged 85
Aberdeen Judo legend Bill Berry has died aged 85

Aberdeen judo legend Bill Berry has been described as “a quiet man who had much to brag about, but never did”.

Despite forging a legendary career with the Grampian police force, it was judo that became what Mr Berry was best-known for.

He dedicated his life to the martial art after being introduced to it during his time as a Scots Guardsman in the 1950s.

Eventually gaining the rank of 7th Dan within the sport, he also helped others attempt the same over a 65-year coaching career.

He was awarded Freedom of the City by Aberdeen City Council and was later added to Sporting Hall of Fame and handed a lifetime achievement award by Sport Aberdeen.

After decades of commitment to the martial art, he also received an MBE in 2005.

Mr Berry died on February 15, aged 85.

Competitive in all aspects of his life, he challenged on a national level in his beloved sport, securing victories in both the National Police Championships and Scottish Championships.

Aberdeen judo master Bill Berry.

He has been described by his son Martin Berry as “a talented hard worker and committed leader” who was “liked by all for his quiet wisdom, calm demeanor and wit”.

Born in the Granite City in 1936 and brought up on a farm near Monymusk, he left school at 15 and was employed by Cluny Estates as a kennel boy and trainee gamekeeper.

It was at his second job on Findrack Estate near Banchory that the laird at the time suggested a move to the military to set the pace for the rest of his life.

Mr Berry was deployed to operations in Kenya and Germany as a Scots Guardsman, and during his time on leave he enrolled with the police in Aberdeen.

Serving the his local community for 30 years, he received a Chief Constables Commendation and upon retiring from the service in 1987, he served for 12 years as a police civilian working closely with the Procurator Fiscal’s office.

A statement from the Scottish Police Federation said: “Bill was secretary of the Grampian Joint Branch Board of the Scottish Police Federation from 1983–1987.

“He assisted hundreds of officers with a caring, firm and fair approach and was highly respected in police and government circles.

“As a police officer, Bill had a quiet authority and never raised his voice but no-one was ever in any doubt who was in charge.

“A quiet man who had much to brag about, but never did.  A friend and mentor to many who will be missed by them all.”

Meeting his wife before she became a nurse, the pair were quickly married and had their son Martin in 1965.

Towards the end of his life he returned to his childhood roots, staying with his son in Monymusk.

Rick Kenney, Judo Scotland honorary vice-president and executive chairman of the Commonwealth Judo Association, added: “Bill Berry has been involved in judo for over 60 years and has played a role as a referee, senior examiner, area organiser, and subsequently as chairman of Judo Scotland.

“Bill has left a legacy for our sport that he and all of our judo family can be proud of. Our condolences to Bill’s family and friends.”

His funeral service will take place in Monymusk Church at 1pm on March 1.

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