Obituary: Chris Prentice, 76

Chris Prentice
Chris Prentice
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Chris Prentice, former principal insurance officer at Edinburgh City Council, has died, aged 76.

Chris was born on May 17, 1936, to Charlie and Annie Prentice, in Newcastle, where his father – the youngest ophthalmic optician ever to qualify in the UK – had moved for work. But when Chris was just 14 days old, the family returned to Edinburgh.

His earliest memory, as a three-year-old during the Second World War, was of seeing the pilot slumped over the controls of a German aircraft as it flew over his house in Bingham Terrace, so close it almost skimmed the chimney pots. The pilot had been taking part in an audacious October 1939 German bombing raid on the Rosyth naval base and the Forth Bridge, and his plane later came down near Port Seton.

Chris was educated at Gillsland Park Preparatory School and Melville College. In the early 1950s he was a prop forward for Melville College’s First XV.

His first job was in the office at Duncan’s chocolate factory in Beaverhall Road. But then he took a post at the Edinburgh Corporation’s Children Department, where he met his future wife, Jan, in 1965. They married three years later.

Chris had found his professional niche, serving the city he loved. He became the council’s principal insurance officer, with responsibility for insuring all council-owned properties and events such as the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Meticulous with details, he became a well-known figure in the insurance world and negotiated the best deals for the city’s ratepayers, saving the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Chris loved his job and was immensely proud of the council and its work. He described his career highlights as mentoring the Youth Opportunities Programme trainees and introducing an insurance scheme which gave protection to council house tenants.

In his spare time, Chris was an avid follower of club and international rugby, regularly attending Myreside and Murrayfield. He also had a passion for cricket, and was of the generation that watched the great Hibs and Hearts football teams of the 1950s and 1960s.

He was also a regular at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and had many other interests, including old movies, politics, local history and talking to everyone he met.

Retirement from the council in 1995 did nothing to dent Chris’s enthusiasm for the city or zest for life. His favourite view in the world was from the top of the Pentland Hills, where he walked every day, looking down over the city he loved. In retirement, he remained civic-minded, reporting potential hazards such as faulty street lamps, broken pavements and loose masonry.

Chris is survived by his wife, Jan, his three children, Alison, Chris and Claire, and his seven grandchildren.