Obituary: Andrew Currie, 81

Andrew Currie played a key role in protecting Scotland's natural heritage

Andrew Currie played a key role in protecting Scotland's natural heritage

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An Edinburgh-born naturalist who began his distinguished career at the Royal Botanic Garden has died at the age of 81.

Andrew Currie was born in Brunton Gardens to bank manager Thomas – who ran a branch in Leith Walk – and his wife Julia.

He attended the Royal High School and was a keen Scout. National Service called after he left school, with Andrew joining the forces as a weapons inspector in the Royal Army Ordinance Corps.

When he finally started his career, it was at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, where he landed a job in the cactus house.

He stayed there for several years before relocating to Kelso, where he was appointed as an experimental officer for the Hill Farming Research Organisation.

His next stop was the Black Isle with the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), where he took up a post as assistant regional officer covering Sutherland, Caithness and Ross and Cromarty.

It was in 1976 that he made the most significant move of his career. Still with the NCC, he set up home in Skye – an island he grew to love and which had been a popular holiday destination for his family – and ended up staying there until his death last month.

There, he was handed responsibility for the Outer Hebrides and Small Isles.

The introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 had a big influence on Andrew’s working life and saw him tasked with designating new Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

He was also kept busy with bird survey work and was a keen member of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and the British Trust for Ornithology.

By the time Andrew started his study work, Skye had gone a century without documenting its birdlife, and his efforts led to a book, Skye Birds, which was written by his friend, Bob McMillan.

Andrew was instrumental in setting up branches of the Scottish Wildlife Trust on Skye – which he chaired – and Easter Ross. He regularly visited schools to give talks to pupils, and was a long-serving columnist for the West Highland Free Press. Even his retirement couldn’t keep Andrew down. He often offered his opinions in a role as a consultant for various clients, including Scottish Natural Heritage – the body which succeeded the NCC – and others on Skye.

A devoted Nationalist, Andrew was actively involved with the SNP during the 1960s and 70s. He once drew Prince Charles into a long debate on the case for Scottish independence, during which he declined to remove the SNP badge from his lapel.

Outside of work, Andrew had a keen interest in the Scots language and piping recitals.

He married Hazel in 1956 and the couple went on to have two children – sons Duncan and Malcolm. He is survived by them.