Obituary: Gerry Douds, 73

Gerry Douds' life was changed by studying at university. Picture: comp
Gerry Douds' life was changed by studying at university. Picture: comp
Have your say

TRIBUTES have been paid to a respected teacher and historian after his death at the age of 73.

Gerry Douds was born in Edinburgh on September 8, 1940, and grew up in Bo’ness, where his father owned a successful drapery business.

One of four brothers, their mother, Martha, died in 1960.

Gerry was educated at St Aloysius’ College in Glasgow, but left without any qualifications before eventually earning a degree at Edinburgh University.

His lifelong love affair with Scottish nationalist politics was sparked in West Lothian when he was a teenager.

At that stage of his life, he took up piping and remained a player for the rest of his life – going on to play in famed Edinburgh pubs such as Sandy Bell’s in Forrest Road.

After leaving school, he worked for a short spell in his father’s business before moving to London, where he came and went from a string of jobs, including one as a delivery driver dropping off toilet fittings.

While in London, he also played rugby before deciding to come home to study for his university entrance. Passing easily, he was awarded with a place at Edinburgh University and began a history degree in 1965.

Gerry’s life was changed by his experiences at university, where he focused on British policy towards the Indian princely states prior to independence.

He went on to teach, devising courts on the politics and culture of imperialism.

India would also prove the destination of his final holiday, shared with his wife Betty, before his death last month following a short battle with illness.

From leaving school with no qualifications to his name, Gerry’s turnaround seemed complete when he was awarded his doctorate in 1980 – eight years after he married Betty, who he met while undertaking labouring work to supplement his earnings at a college.

The college went on to become University College Worcester, a development in no small part down to the efforts of Gerry, who worked tirelessly as an administrator as well as a head of department.

Friends told how one of his most memorable moments came in September 2006 when Gerry gave an address at the biennial dinner commemorating the 1651 Battle of Worcester, entertaining the audience with his pipes.

Gerry and Betty became well-known members of the community in Worcester, joining the county cricket club almost as soon as they arrived. She worked for many years as secretary to the local primary school.

He was a father to two sons – Kenneth and Alistair – and often made trips back to Edinburgh to keep an eye on his beloved Hibs at Easter Road.

Gerry died in Bartestree, near Hereford, aged 73, on July 22.