Real Lives: Friends dedicate bench to popular ‘Mr Morningside’

Neil Young
Neil Young
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FRIENDS of a man dubbed “Mr Morningside” have dedicated a bench to his memory outside the area’s Church Hill Theatre.

Neil Young was an enthusiastic contributor to activities in the area, known for his gusto for life and his many great friendships.

He was born in June 1946, to Esmie, a teacher, and Bill, a local government officer. He grew up in Greenbank, and both he and brother Graham attended Boroughmuir school.

As a teenager he got his first camera, a Brownie 127, which sparked a life-long interest in photography.

After leaving school, he worked first at Century Insurance, and then joined the civil service as a clerical and then executive officer.

Following his father’s death when Mr Young was just 21, he stayed at home to look after his mother, until 1991, when he moved to a flat of his own in Springvalley Terrace.

After leaving the civil service, he became a self-employed gardener and threw himself into local life. He joined first the Morningside Community Council, and then the Morningside Heritage Association.

Mr Young was a key figure in the 2005 community play Morningside Memories and the four-day Festival for Morningside that sprang from it. He also enjoyed several turns as Santa, first at the Waverley Centre and most recently at the Klondyke Centre.

He had countless friends who appreciated him as a good listener with a great sense of humour, renowned as a good teller of bad jokes.

He was a member of the RSPB, the WWF and Greenpeace, and a lifetime member at Edinburgh Zoo, where he volunteered.

He was also a great pub quiz enthusiast, eventually graduating to TV quizzes. He won £16,000 on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and had the rare honour of finding Anne Robinson being nice to him when he was voted off the Weakest Link.

Mr Young also loved to travel, visiting Sri Lanka, Tunisia, South Africa, France, Canada and the USA.

After he died in November last year, his wish to donate his body to medical research was respected, and he was accepted by the University of Edinburgh.

Rani Robertson, a friend in Morningside, said: “He would give good advice and he became a good friend to me. He would do anything for you. Because he’s given his body to scientific research there wasn’t anything in his name like a plaque so I spoke to some of his friends and they suggested a bench would be a good memorial.”

Mr Young’s brother Graham said he thought he would have appreciated the tribute. He added: “If I walked down Morningside Road with Neil it took me longer because we kept meeting all the people that knew him.

“He just touched so many people’s lives. He was the greatest big brother.”