Former Provost a stalwart of sport

Sean Connery with Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick in August 1978.
Sean Connery with Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick in August 1978.
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Tributes have been paid to former Lord Provost and ex-Commonwealth Games chairman Kenneth Borthwick, who recently died aged 101.

Kenneth Borthwick was born in Leith in 1915. He was educated at Hermitage Park Primary School and then at George Heriot’s School as a Foundationer.

He joined the Aberdeen Police Force at 19 and, apart from his war service as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, he served for 12 years, becoming a uniformed sergeant.

He emigrated to South Africa in 1947 but returned to the UK nine years later to educate his children as he was very much opposed to the apartheid regime which existed in South Africa at the time.

He entered local politics in Edinburgh in 1956 and served both in the Lothian Region and the Edinburgh City as a councillor, magistrate and Lord Provost and served between 1977 and 1980.

He was chairman of the Civic Amenities Committee largely responsible for the modernisation of the Meadowbank Sports Centre and the creation of the Commonwealth Pool and the Hillend Ski Slope.

On leaving the council in 1980 he became Honorary Consul in Scotland for Malawi and became Dean of the Edinburgh and Leith Consular Corps. He also served as a Justice of the Peace.

He contributed much to the recreational life of the city and was appointed chairman of the 1986 Commonwealth Games, but was to be sorely tested by the boycott by many of the Commonwealth countries who chose to stay away to register their opposition to the regime in South Africa and their disapproval of the British Government’s refusal to impose sanctions on the South African government.

Despite the difficulties, however, the Games did go ahead and, although depleted, the sporting chain remained unbroken.

He married wife, Irene, in 1942. His eldest son, Gilroy, was a talented winger for many years in Scottish rugby.

He is survived by his two other children, Jean and Andrew, both of whom live in Edinburgh and have been his constant aides and companions for many years.

Lord Provost Frank Ross said: “I was sad to hear of the passing of Kenneth Borthwick – a stalwart of local government politics. As a sports enthusiast, Ken drove support for the creation of the council’s famous Royal Commonwealth Pool, the Hillend Ski Slope and upgrades to Meadowbank Sports Centre.

“A colourful character with a varied career, Ken Borthwick was both a sergeant in the Royal Air Force and Dean of the Edinburgh and Leith Consular Corps; a confectioner and also chair of the 1986 Commonwealth Games.”