Coll The Coll Magazine

Article by C M (2000)

Tributes. John Crawford 22nd October 1932 - 7th October 1999
John Crawford 22nd October1932 - 7th October1999

Following a long illness, John Crawford passed away on the 7th of October 1999 in Edinburgh, aged 66.

John was a well known and universally popular man on Coll. He and his family have been regular visitors since 1962 when, like so many now familiar faces, they took a Summer holiday in one of Nurse Stewart's caravans and formed what was to be a lifelong bond with the island. This bond led them in 1969 to buy and beautifully renovate their cottage at Sorisdale. John's work on this house became a model and inspiration for many who subsequently acquired and restored ruins on Coll. The building is a wonderful monument to his vision and craftsmanship. It will henceforth be known as 'John's Cottage'.

It was during the renovation work on the house that John struck up a close friendship with Archie and Hector MacKinnon and later Johnnie Mclnness, his closest neighbours. In the initial stages of work, they invited John to spend the cold Winter nights at their cottage until his was inhabitable. Moyra remembers how John would return the favour by procuring much-needed tractor spare parts.

John's profession was that of an artist and lecturer (at Moray House College of Education where he himself had done his teacher training) but such was the diversity and depth of John's talents and passions, his name seemed to mean something different to each person who knew him. Anyone who befriended John was aware of an impressive understanding and knowledge of all things around him, be they aesthetic, scientific, historical, social or political. In 1975, he began collecting archaeological specimens, mostly from sand dune sites on the island. Many of these finds were displayed in the National Museum of Antiquities, and in 1981, John was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. His archaeological work in Coll led to publication in the Society's proceedings in 1997.

John was a talented, instinctive teacher. He would, at the drop of a hat, slip into 'teacher' mode when he sensed genuine interest and eagerness to find out in his companion, be they child or adult. It was natural, then, that he should find his vocation in teacher training and also that he should become engaged in work for BBC schools broadcasts on both radio and television. This work involved both writing and presentation, which led through John's political affiliation to his participation in Party Political broadcasts for the Scottish National Party.

John's retirement in 1989 saw he and Moyra spending increasingly long periods in Coll, and he began to devote more time to his painting. By this time, also, they had become Grandparents and would spend many happy days with little Katy. Cruelly, however, John's health began to fail in the late '90's and he was diagnosed with a terminal disease.

John was a generous, funny and charming man. One would always look forward to seeing him and be sorry to see him go. This occasion is no exception. Our thoughts are, naturally, with Moyra, Lynne, Katy, Kenna and Graham.

Coll Magazine - Article by C M

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