Town mourns loss of ‘in­spi­ra­tional’ man

TRIBUTES POUR IN FOR GIFTED OBAN GRAD­U­ATE WHO OVER­CAME AD­VER­SITY WITH A SENSE OF HU­MOUR

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

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

Peter Bain

Oban high school

TAL­ENTED: Rian MacAl­lis­ter

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