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Dr Pierre Fouin, ‘Glen Tanar Exile’, Aberdeen GP and author, dies at 92

Dr Francois Louis Pierre Fouin - known as Pierre - holding a baby photo of himself
Dr Francois Louis Pierre Fouin - known as Pierre - holding a baby photo of himself

He grew up on Royal Deeside’s Glen Tanar Estate.

He had an English mother and a French father – who as a valet disembarked the Titanic before it set sail for America.

And he would go on to be a three-time author and one of Aberdeen’s most influential GPs.

This is the incredible life of Dr Francois Louis Pierre Fouin – known as Pierre – who has died, aged 92.

Dr Fouin – known as Pierre – holding a baby photo of himself from his Glen Tanar days.

Pierre Fouin was born in 1928, in the village of Torphins in Deeside.

His mother was Rebecca Watson from Morpeth and his father, Francois Louis Jean Marie Fouin, of Saint-Julien-de-Vouvantes, France.

A new life in Deeside

The family set up home in Scotland where Francois would later gain employment as butler on the nearby Glen Tanar Estate.

Having left France in the late 1900s he had valeted in other UK places before beginning work for Paisley-born Lord Glentanar, George Coats, in the 20s.

Pierre Fouin, centre, and his parents Rebecca and Francois Fouin at Glen Tanar Estate.

Despite coming from simple farming folk on the continent, Francois would become a very knowledgeable and sought-after employee.

Titanic disappointment

While he worked for a businessman trading on both sides of the Atlantic, he was all set to sail on the Titanic to New York to join his employer.

However, before the ship left dock for America he had to disembark after receiving a telegram telling him to remain in England. The bitter disappointment would be exchanged later for relief, and a promising career in Scotland.

The narrow escape also allowed Francois to meet Rebecca, start a family and become father to Pierre.

Pierre Fouin with his father, butler Francois Fouin.

Educated at Glen Tanar school then Aboyne Primary, Pierre would board with his friend Alan Simpson, and his mother, in Louisville Avenue, to attend Aberdeen Grammar School before moving on to Aberdeen University to study medicine.

National Service

When conscription called he joined the Black Watch serving his two years in the army.

Pierre Fouin, left, and friend during national service.

Son, Peter Fouin, said: “He never left Scotland during national service as far as we know, and it was Aberdeen where he met my mum.”

Both working at the Royal Infirmary, Pierre fell in love with theatre sister, Kathleen Angus of Aberdeen.

They wed in 1958 and moved to Peterculter where Pierre joined a GP practice serving both Culter and Cults.

Pierre and wife Kathleen Fouin, better known as Kaye.

Son Peter arrived in 1959, and daughter Nicola -‘ Nikki’ – who tragically passed away in May of 2019, was born in 1961.

With young children and a growing casebook of patients, the Fouin family home would be the go-to location for medical help in Culter.

“The surgery was the house in the very early days,” said Peter. “The dining room doubled as a waiting area, and even when we got the second house – the surgery was still attached. There was always a line of people coming up the drive.”

Leaving his mark on medicine

As his career progressed Pierre would be one of the driving forces behind the building of new health centres for Peterculter and Cults which marked a significant improvement in health care for those areas.

His influence would also extend to mentoring new GPs and remaining active, long into his career, on medical boards.

Dr Alison Glenesk was one of Pierre’s trainees.

She said: “He was my mentor for GP practice in 1982. It wasn’t so much about being taught the medicine, it was about helping us become good general practitioners.

“He was way ahead of his time in that he was always spoke of psychology. ‘Why did that behaviour occur?’ ‘Why do you think it happened like this?’ It really shaped my practice in always keeping the person at the heart of everything.”

Becoming an author

Growing up on an estate such as Glen Tanar left an indelible mark on Pierre’s life.

With a passion for the place he called home he began penning the story of his life.

His first book, The Early Life and Times of a Glen Tanar Exile followed his life growing up with a second publication entitled Glen Tanar Valley of Echoes and Hidden Treasures, to follow.

This would detail his quest to find the rocks and plaques dotted over the estate brandishing phrases and poetry.

Dr Pierre Fouin on Glen Tanar estate with one of his ‘hidden treasures’.

His final manuscript, Kick Those Sleeping Dogs, provided a picture of his political views and opinions.

These would overflow onto the pages of the Press and Journal, becoming one of our most prolific letter writers highlighting issues such as ‘petty nationalism’, Union Street proposals and the dangers of traffic calming in rural areas.

Country sports

Being raised on an estate meant Pierre loved to fish and to shoot, and was highly skilled in both.

Pierre Fouin demonstrating the results of his 1956 fishing trip.

Peter added: “I remember him returning home one evening absolutely soaking wet, because he had decided to go down the river with the rod rather than lose the fish. He returned with a 20lb salmon!”

He was also passionate about golf, still playing at Deeside just eight weeks before he died, as well as being a member of Deeside Probus Club.

But it was his family that he was most proud of.

Family man

He and Kaye would go on to have four grandchildren.

Pierre and Cara Meyer, the children of Nicola, and Rebecca and Francesca, Peter’s daughters.

“Sadly my mum passed away in 2011 – not quite making it to 80,” said Peter.

“My dad soldiered on but the untimely and tragic death of Nikki profoundly affected my dad. Becoming ill, without her help to nurse him as she had done previously, was unbearable for him.”

Pierre Fouin centre, with his children Peter left, and daughter Nikki.

A celebration of Dr Pierre Fouin’s life took place this week and he was laid to rest, with alongside his beloved daughter Nikki, in Deeside.

You can read the family’s notice here.

 

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