Some people grab life by the scruff of the neck and regard the journey as a chance to embrace any challenges in their path.
Brendan Adey was one of these redoubtable characters who never stopped searching for adventures on and off the rugby pitch, whether foraging in the forwards with Aberdeen GSFP, teaching generations of youngsters in the Granite City, or jumping on his Harley Davidson and zooming into the great blue yonder.
A natural born thrill-seeker, his friends and colleagues have been left shocked by the news of Adey’s death last week at just 65.
But they have also painted a vivid picture of the manner in which the former head boy at McLaren High School in Callander made an immediate impression on his contempories at Jordanhill College in Glasgow and subsequently blazed a lustrous trail after arriving in the north east in the 1970s.
His story is a throwback to the days before rugby embraced professionalism and it allowed Adey to pursue several different interests outside the classroom.
A signed-up member of the have-passport-will-travel school of roaring boys, he had a passion for writing, exploring, occasionally indulging in white-knuckle experiences – including running with the bulls in Pamplona – and generally adhering to the philosophy that you only live once, so you might as well enjoy yourself.
He joined the staff of Aberdeen Grammar School in 1976 as a PE teacher, a role which he fulfilled for more than two decades. With a passion for all sport, he excelled as a rugby and football mentor, and his talents were recognised in his appointment as head coach of the regional Caledonian schools rugby initiative, whereby he encouraged youngsters from all ages and backgrounds to pick up the ball and run with it.
That enthusiasm for wider sport also led to several working trips to the United States during holiday periods and he participated in some basketball coaching in Ohio.
Jim Rae, the immediate past president of Aberdeen Rugby, affectionately recalled his friend as a trailblazer who was more interested in the trail than the blazer.
He said: “Brendan was fascinated by the impact of mindset on the performance of sportspersons and players. After leaving the school, his applied thinking and insights became the core of a career redirection.
“As well as individual clients, he spent time with the juniors at Aberdeen FC, during the Jimmy Calderwood management era, and was ahead of his time in understanding the importance of sports psychology.
“He was a keen rugby player at what was then the Aberdeen GSFP club at Rubislaw, and his favoured role was as a destructive back row forward.
“With his professional background, he latterly also acted as coach, introducing new concepts prior to the arrival of All Black, John Fleming as head coach.
“He also particularly enjoyed the social side of rugby and was a key participant in the team’s tours, notably to Houston, Texas and Orkney Sevens.
“His loss will be felt across a much wider sporting community, where his insights and irrepressible enthusiasm developed participants at all levels and age groups.”
Adey’s inquisitive nature took him to all corners of the globe while he continually embraced physical challenges and broadened his knowledge.
Latterly, he returned to secondary education in the City and Shire on a short-term contract basis, reigniting his passion for developing the potential of many youngsters, whilst maintaining his wider portfolio of social and business involvements.
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “Brendan Adey was a highly respected professional teacher who was passionate about sport and passionate about learning. He devoted his career to developing and challenging his pupils to be all they could be.
“Throughout his distinguished career, he was a dedicated sports coach and provided countless opportunities for pupils to play and enjoy team sports such as rugby and basketball. He also loved to provide challenging extra-curricular activities such as juggling and unicycling.”
There is no doubt that he will be missed by generations of youngsters who benefitted from his irrepressible, infectious attitude.
Somebody remarked last week: “Brendan was 65, coming on 26 and so young at heart. There are so many of us who owe an awful lot to his efforts and expertise.”
It’s a fitting tribute to a genuinely blithe spirit.