New Kirk Moderator 's mental health crusade was inspired by Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison

A MINISTER who set up a mental health support service following the suicide of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison has been named as the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 21st October 2019, 12:45 pm
Dr Martin Fair will became Kirk Moderator at the General Assembly in May
Dr Martin Fair will became Kirk Moderator at the General Assembly in May

Rev Dr Martin Fair, who will take up the post in May, said he was left “devastated” after the singer of one of his favourite bands took his own life in May 2018.

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“I have buried too many people who have taken their own lives over the years because they felt alone and helpless in the darkness which many think is their only friend.

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“I am a big fan of Frightened Rabbit and was absolutely devastated by Scott’s death.

“When his body was found something snapped within me and I decided that I could not go on merely saying ‘isn’t it terrible’ every time someone took their own life.”

Dr Fair, 55, is minister of St Andrews Parish Church in Arbroath, Angus, and the new service was designed by six members of the congregation– three mental health professionals and three people who have struggled with their own mental health.

The congregation already has a social action project which includes helping people with drug addiction.

Dr Fair said he hoped to highlight drug addiction and mental health issues during his year in office.

He said too many vulnerable people were being failed and politicians must redouble their efforts to address the crisis.

Official figures show there were 1,187 drugs related deaths in Scotland in 2018, up from 934 the previous year while there were 784 probable suicides last year, 104 more than in 2017.

Dr Fair said: “The statutory provision to support people with drug additions and mental health is desperately short in terms of what is needed to address the epidemic.

“There must be much more investment in mental health services to address gaps in provision which includes a shortage of practitioners.

“I am not knocking the providers of mental health services - they are doing their best to support people but they are so stretched.

“Churches and the wider voluntary sector have an obligation to step in and fill the gaps until they are able to access the appropriate services.”

Dr Fair suffered a "life-changing" accident in 2017 when he tripped and fell in the street in Arbroath and broke his left arm which has never properly healed despite three operations.

His left hand does not function properly and he is unable to tie his own shoelaces and necktie and relies on a specially adapted car to get around.

He said: “It has been a huge learning curve and for the first time in my life I have had to ask for help.

“While I wish this had not happened to me, good things have come from it because when you are dependent on people for help you take on a different view of life.

“The support I got from my family and the Christian community was phenomenal and I think I am a more rounded person because of that experience.

“My attitude is ‘ok, let’s get on with life’ and I am not going to let it stop me or define me. I am now learning how to play golf one-handed.”