Fred Jack, a former adventure instructor with The Gordon Highlanders, who went on to take charge of the Golden Lions freefall parachute team, has died aged 66.
He joined the army at 15, served as a PT instructor before training to teach skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing and canoeing.
Fred, of Alford, had spells serving in Northern Ireland and Singapore and was part of a six-man expedition to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, Asia’s highest peak.
In later life, Fred and his wife Joyce, opened a guesthouse in Alford which became a de facto museum to The Gordon Highlanders.
Fred was left heartbroken when Joyce died in September 2020 during the pandemic. Restrictions meant attendance at her funeral was limited so when Fred’s funeral took place, the couple’s children, Laura and Kieran, family and friends, made sure Joyce was remembered too.
Fred was born in Aberdeen in December 1956, the first of two children of Alfred and Henrietta Jack of Burghead.
The family moved to Aberdeen but when Henrietta was diagnosed with MS, the children went to stay in a home near Holborn Street and attended Ferryhill primary School.
When their mother died, the children went to stay with their grandparents in Gilcomston Park and attended Skene Square primary then Rosemount secondary school.
Army life begins
Fred joined The Gordon Highlanders as a junior soldier and trained near Folkestone before joining the regiment in Singapore in 1974.
He returned to Scotland to train as a PT instructor at Fort George, Inverness, before an 18-month posting to Belfast.
Fred had a second posting to Northern Ireland in 1979 before returning to Aberdeen the following year to train as an adventure instructor.
In the years that followed, Fred led training in the Bavarian Alps as a sergeant and chief training instructor and it was there he was reunited with his future wife, Joyce.
The pair had met at a party in Aberdeen but met up again in Germany when Joyce was working as an au pair in the South Africa consulate.
Joyce, who came from Kildrummy, had been a skilled highland dancer and left school at 16 to study hotel management at Aberdeen Technical College.
The couple married at Kildrummy Kirk in April 1990 and set up home in Portlethen.
Joyce had been working in finance with Grampian Regional Council but gave up her job when Fred was posted to Germany.
She worked in the NAAFI and it was in Germany their first daughter, Laura, was born followed by Kieran on their return to Scotland.
For the last four years of his career Fred served as sergeant major of the Golden Lions based near Edinburgh.
In 1994, two years before he left the army, the family bought their home in Alford and Fred started work offshore as a rope access technician.
The couple turned part of their home into a bed and breakfast which Joyce ran while Fred was working away.
When Joyce turned 50, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and underwent operations and chemotherapy.
The outlook was good until February 2017 when she was given the devastating news that the cancer had returned and it was incurable.
Joyce set about making the most of her remaining time. She joined craft groups, went to Zumba and entered a Press and Journal gardening competition.
The couple were also able to enjoy holidays abroad and many more within the UK.
In 2018, Laura entered her mother in Courage On The Catwalk, run by Friends of Anchor, and held in the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen.
She was horrified by the prospect but later said it was one of the best experiences of her life and the three shows raised £136,000 for the charity.
Joyce died in September 2020 aged 57 and is buried in the cemetery at Auchindoir Kirk where she was christened.
Just under two years later, Fred was diagnosed with stage four cancer and despite three courses of treatment, the options ran out and he died peacefully after a four-day stay in hospital.
You can read the family’s announcement here.