Town mourns loss of ‘inspirational’ man
TRIBUTES POUR IN FOR GIFTED OBAN GRADUATE WHO OVERCAME ADVERSITY WITH A SENSE OF HUMOUR
A GIFTED Oban scholar who was described by his former headteacher as ‘inspirational’ died after falling ill at his student accommodation in Cupar, near St Andrews.
Rian MacAllister, 21, from Oban, had just completed a degree in Mediaeval History and Middle East studies.
And he graduated with honours from St Andrews university in June.
He overcame optic nerve hypoplasia, a severe sight impairment, to embark upon a highly successful academic career.
His cousin, Rachel, wrote on his Facebook page: ‘ Absolutely heartbroken. R.I.P to the most intelligent man I’ve ever known, my beautiful little cousin Rian, just remembering the times we used to wrestle and pretend we were Lord of the Rings characters.
‘Or when I was wee and was asked what I’d do if I won the lottery and I said I’d get Rian new eyes.
‘Just shows how much I adored you and will do always ... Even though I’m older I always looked up to you ... such a caring, honest and smart guy and it’s not fair that this happened to you.’
A pupil of Park primary school in Oban, Rian lived in the Longsdale district of the town.
At Oban high school, he was a popular young student and a friend to all.
A pupil with a passion for pol- itics, he took those who needed support and guidance under his wing.
Headteacher at Oban high, Peter Bain, paid a moving tribute to his former pupil.
He said: ‘It is with great sadness
that we learned of Ryan’s passing. He was a lovely young man. He was always polite, courteous and very hard-working.
Mr Bain continued: ‘His passion for politics and public speaking encouraged many other youngsters in the school to follow his example. He was truly inspirational. He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.’
A spokesman for St Andrews university said: ‘Rian was an exceptionally bright and committed young man.
‘We’re extremely saddened by this news.
‘It came as an enormous shock to some of the staff Rian who worked with when he studied here and it will be devastating to many of the friends he made at university.
‘Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.’
Rian, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, was nominated for a Young Scot Award by the former First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell, in 2006. Showing off his sense of humour, Rian said: ‘I want to be an author, but if that doesn’t work out I’ll go into politics - so watch out Tony Blair.’
In 2011, Highlands and Islands MSP Mike MacKenzie invited Rian to be his local hero during the procession down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile before the formal opening of the Scottish parliament.
Rian championed the use of technology to overcome disability and was a guest speaker at the Assistive Technology Advisers Network annual conference in 2013, when he talked about his experiences as an undergraduate.
Rian is survived by his parents, Scott and Karen, and his older sister, Rowan.
He was truly inspirational. He will be sadly missed
Oban high school
TALENTED: Rian MacAllister