The death at only 66 of the quixotic Rev Andrew Patterson has surely robbed Scotland and it’s Kirk of one of it’s most under-celebrated environmental activists, a man whose restless journey was often motivated by a wish to see the Church take a more vigorous stand on issues such as consumerism and global warming.
Born the son of a doctor and initially educated at Epsom College public school, he is remembered during his time at St Andrews University, where he studied history and divinity, as being a radical environmentalist.
Subsequent study for the ministry at Edinburgh’s New College only enhanced that radical direction and he quickly became motivated on his journey to try and convince the church that it had an obligation to lead on environmental issues.
His career as a parish minister and school teacher was, as he once admitted with a self mocking laugh, possibly more of a verb than a noun and at one stage he even concentrated on trying to live a self-sustaining lifestyle, breeding hens, pigs and goats.
But he was no dilettante and many of his pupils remember their bangle-wearing history teacher with both a fondness and respect.
Much of his teaching in schools such as Annan Academy and preaching in his parish at Port William took place in the south-west of Scotland.
Perhaps one of Andrew’s greatest achievements related to his work promoting the notion of walking pilgrimages between sacred sites, and he became internationally respected for his work in this field.
When still young, he married Elizabeth MacIntyre, Lizzie to her friends, who was the daughter of one of the founders of the Iona Community.
If there was ever to be a time when Andrew’s true worth and tenacity was to become evident it was when Jenny became ill with a degenerative disease and Andrew was to spend three winters living rough in a tiny barge called Cuddy at Ratho spending most of his days at his wife’s bedside. Lizzie’s death was followed by a successful period as the parish minister of Portobello Old church .
His retirement to a small cottage in Perthshire with his new wife Jeanie Sinclair was a time of great joy and he acted as a locum in several churches.
He is survived by Jeannie, two children, two stepsons, three grandchildren, two dogs and a very small canal boat called Cuddy.