Oc­to­ber 9th, 1925 – Au­gust 10th, 2015

The Oban Times - - Births, Marriages & Deaths -

The large con­gre­ga­tion who gath­ered at Ap­pin Parish Church to pay their re­spects and to celebrate Lachie’s long life was tes­ti­mony to the spe­cial place he had in the Ap­pin com­mu­nity. He was a huge char­ac­ter who lived life his way as a fam­ily man, war vet­eran, crofter, bee-keeper, gar­dener, mo­tor- cy­clist, neigh­bour and friend.

Lach­lan Neil Black was born on Oc­to­ber 9, 1925 in Ard­tun, Bunes­san, Mull. Fit­tingly, the first hymn at this fu­neral was Morn­ing Has Bro­ken, sung to the tune, Bunes­san. He was brought up by his granny and aunts and moved to Ap­pin when he was very young as his mother, Mar­jorie – known as Maisie – worked as a house­keeper in var­i­ous es­tates across Ar­gyll.

Lachie at­tended school in Duror and Ap­pin, where he met his fu­ture wife, Mar­garet Aird who, at the time, teased him end­lessly – so much so, that he avoided her as much as he could!

He en­listed in the Royal Engi­neers in 1943 aged 17, train­ing ini­tially at the Bridge of Don bar­racks in Aberdeen and sub­se­quently at var­i­ous places around the coun­try. He was then or­dered to Ply­mouth where he joined the Ard­more - an Ir­ish sup­ply ves­sel de­ployed to land es­sen­tial sup­plies at Dieppe in France to sup­port the first wave of al­lied troops at the D-Day land­ings.

Af­ter the war, his ser­vice con­tin­ued with the Bri­tish mil­i­tary mis­sion in Greece at Salonika and Pi­raeus, where he spent his 21st birth­day. His granny sent him a cooked chicken and clootie dumpling which he added to the rum and ouzo he had ac­quired at the docks, al­low­ing a true Ap­pin cel­e­bra­tion, only in­ter­rupted when sev­eral peo­ple started pro­jec­tile vom­it­ing! Granny’s good in­ten­tions had not al­lowed for in­ter­na­tional borders and hot­ter cli­mates.

Lachie then went on to the Mid­dle East, learn­ing to swim in the Suez Canal, be­fore re­turn­ing to Bri­tain to de­mob. He came back to Ap­pin and worked as a cat­tle­man on the Fas­na­cloich Es­tate. There his re­la­tion­ship with Mar­garet blos­somed and the cou­ple were mar­ried on March 16, 1955 by the Rev Ken­neth MacMil­lan. Mar­garet be­came the Fas­na­cloich post mistress while Lachie moved from the es­tate to driv­ing lor­ries at the sawmill. He then worked at the Al­gi­nate fac­tory at Bar­cal­dine where he stayed un­til he re­tired.

Lachie and Mar­garet had six chil­dren be­fore mov­ing to Croft 5, Achos­ri­gan, Ap­pin, liv­ing in two static car­a­vans. Mar­garet re­turned to nurs­ing, while Lachie used his skills to build the fam­ily home at Burn­side – es­sen­tially two pre­fabs joined to­gether. Lachie drove them down from Bal­lachul­ish on a trac­tor and trailer with Mar­garet lead­ing the way in a car as the trac­tor had no lights. Their new home be­came a very wel­com­ing place where many a ceilidh took place with Mar­garet on the pi­ano and Lachie yo­delling be­side her as songs and the odd li­ba­tion were en­joyed. Fam­ily hol­i­days were in a wee car­a­van tour­ing the length and breadth of Bri­tain.

Once Lachie re­tired from the fac­tory and Mar­garet from Glen­coe Hos­pi­tal, they en­joyed trav­el­ling, vis­it­ing daugh­ter Chris­tine in East­bourne and Lachie’s cousin in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, as well as a mem­o­rable hol­i­day in North Africa where Lachie rode a camel. But most of all they en­joyed the bon­homie of home sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends, es­pe­cially at the Ap­pin Show and Hog­manay.

Mar­garet’s health be­gan to de­cline and so a new chap­ter in Lachie’s life opened as he be­came her de­voted carer. He nursed her for sev­eral years be­fore she died at Burn­side with Lachie be­side her.

Af­ter her death, Lachie was quite lonely, but kept go­ing – en­joy­ing his morn­ing por­ridge, his daily drive down to the vil­lage shop and blether­ing with neigh­bours and friends, prefer­ably in his na­tive Gaelic. He was a cen­tral mem­ber of the weekly lunch club at Port Ap­pin vil­lage hall, en­joy­ing the com­pany and end­less yarns told (and re­told).

There are many sto­ries of Lachie, too nu­mer­ous to re­count here, in­volv­ing bulls and fires and moons, but one es­pe­cially il­lus­trates his quick wit. His third child was about to be born at home by can­dle­light, be­fore they had elec­tric­ity. All was go­ing well un­til Nurse Har­vey re­alised there was also an un­di­ag­nosed twin which she pro­ceeded to de­liver safely caus­ing Lachie to cry out: ‘Put the can­dles out – the light is at­tract­ing them!’ The twin was named Iain Har­vey Black.

Lachie lived a full life with many ups and some downs es­pe­cially with the deaths of his youngest son, Hugh, in child­hood and his grand­son, Fraser, and, of course, the loss of Mar­garet.

A very hu­man man, he leaves a big gap in many lives and the Ap­pin com­mu­nity where we will re­mem­ber him laugh­ing and danc­ing in the shop a few hours be­fore he slipped peace­fully away at home, just days be­fore the Ap­pin Show.

He leaves be­hind his chil­dren, Chris­tine, Mairi, Neil, Iain, Robert and Elise, 13 grand­chil­dren and 11 great-grand­chil­dren. Lachie, we will miss you. Iain D. McNi­col. SADLY MISSED: Lachie Black with his

grand­daugh­ter, Donna.

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