Obituary: Reverend Alasdair Macdonnell, 87

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TRIBUTES have been paid to the Reverend Alasdair Macdonnell, a former minister at St Mary’s Parish Church and a talented fiddle player, who has died, aged 87.

More than 300 mourners gathered in St Mary’s Parish Church at Haddington on Monday for the funeral of its former minister.

They were there to celebrate the life of Reverend Macdonell, 87, who was minister at the historic kirk from 1979 until his retirement to Gifford in 1992.

He passed away peacefully at home on April 8. He was buried in the churchyard.

Born in Canada in 1927 where his father had gone to establish a church in the prairies, Mr Macdonell returned to Scotland as a boy where he was educated in Dundee and Edinburgh. He studied classics at Cambridge.

His ministry touched many people in Haddington and other rural areas, and he will be remembered for his caring daily concern for his parishioners.

He maintained strong links between the church and the Lamp of Lothian Collegiate Trust which restored St Mary’s.

He was also a keen supporter of the Aubigny Twinning Committee. The annual Whitekirk pilgrimage became an established annual event under his charge, attracting large numbers of visitors to the town.

As founder and leader of the Haddington Fiddles, he orchestrated a whole host of celebratory functions in the town including Burns nights, harvest homes and Kirk ceilidhs.

Mr Macdonell became a familiar figure on his bicycle, conducting his parish visits.

His opposite number at the Episcopalian church in Haddington, Canon Alex Black, recalled Mr Macdonell’s “warm welcome to Haddington” at the beginning of his ministry at Holy Trinity Church. When Holy Trinity was later damaged by fire, an immediate invitation was offered by Rev Macdonell’s Kirk Session to allow the congregation to continue its worship in St Mary’s until their own church was repaired.

In retirement, Mr Macdonell served on a temporary basis at St Andrews, Musselburgh, and stood 
in for colleagues on holiday, regularly conducting funerals at short notice.

He is survived by his wife Meg, five children and 16 grandchildren.