Lonach Gathering stalwart member Rob Walker dies aged 90

Rob Walker

A stalwart member of the Lonach Gathering has died at the age of 90.

Born in September 1926 at Castle Fraser, Robert (Rob) Walker relocated with his family at the age of nine to Balachailach, Strathdon and subsequently lived and farmed there during his entire working life.

In 1959, he married his beloved Elma and the couple brought up three daughters – Ruby, Evie and Iris – at the Glen Deskry farm, before retiring to Dinnet and latterly Ballater.

Mr Walker first became connected with the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society in 1946 when he was asked by a fellow member to march in his place.

It was something he responded to with the gusto and enthusiasm which summed up his attitude to seizing life by the scruff of the neck.

The following year, he joined the society and became a Lonach Highlander. He took part in the annual march at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and was a ubiquitous presence at the traditional proceedings until 2009 when he was 82.

He was an active member of the society and witnessed its membership blossom from around 100 members to the current figure of 227.

In 1991, when the Lonach Highlanders marched from Strathdon to the Braemar Gathering, he escorted the then patron, Sir Hamish Forbes, who was on horseback.

Along with other Highlanders, Mr Walker appeared in a production of the famous musical, Brigadoon, at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, officially opened the 1992 Oldmeldrum Sports, and pulled the wedding car of current society patron, Sir James Forbes, at his wedding to Lady Kerry.

An avid and skilled maker of walking sticks, he created hundreds throughout his lifetime, selling the carved shepherd’s crooks at local shows and fairs. It was a hobby he first took up at the age of 13 and a craft which he continued in his workshop at his Ballater home.

In 1991, when the Lonach Highlanders marched from Strathdon to the Braemar Gathering, he escorted the then patron, Sir Hamish Forbes, who was on horseback.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, paid a warm tribute to her late colleague.

She said: “Rob was a respected and much loved member of the society. The contribution he made over seven decades of loyal service helped to ensure the society’s continued success.

“Although he retired from marching eight years ago, he maintained a keen interest in proceedings and was thrilled to learn the Highlanders would be attending the Royal Edinburgh Military tattoo in August.”

Along with being an avid supporter of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, he also volunteered at the Aboyne Highland Games.

Mr Walker is survived by Elma, his three daughters, Ruby, Evie and Iris, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He was one of those indefatigable figures who realised people only get one chance at living.

He grabbed it with both hands.

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