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David Eaglesham

Former general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association

Former general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association

Born: September 7, 1950; Died: January, 31, 2014.

David Eaglesham, who has died aged 63, was a remarkable, ebullient and indefatigable general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) for 12 years from 1996 until 2008. He was also one of the chief negotiators of the McCrone Agreement which, despite some flaws, made a significant positive step forward for teachers' pay and conditions.

A true "north side of the river" Glaswegian, he was educated at Victoria Drive Senior Secondary School and claimed allegiance to Partick Thistle football club. He started his career teaching history and modern studies in Govan High School in Glasgow, before moving to Mearns Castle High School. Thereafter he was promoted to principal teacher of Modern Studies in Cathkin High School.

As a teacher, he always gave of his time freely, taking rugby teams on a Saturday morning and organising exchange trips for pupils to Holland and Germany, through which he made lasting friendships with teachers abroad. He was also a keen singer and musician and in each of his schools became heavily involved in staff and pupils' musical productions. His sense of fun and sense of humour made him popular with staff and pupils alike.

It was during his time at Cathkin that his keen sense of fairness and justice led him to become involved in the work of the teaching union, the SSTA. In the 1980s he became district secretary of Glasgow Division and later convener and a driving force of Strathclyde Executive, looking after the interests of members across Strathclyde, almost half of the SSTA membership in Scotland.

He was always a fair negotiator, keen to listen and to contribute to discussion with the sole aim of achieving the best outcome for teachers. In doing so, he sparred ably with senior education officials such as Frank Pignatelli and Keir Bloomer and gained their respect. His forward-thinking approach and love of technology led directly to the association (somewhat reluctantly) adopting computers for all district secretaries.

In 1994, he became assistant general secretary and in 1996 was elected general secretary, steering the association through a period of constant educational change with his usual drive and enthusiasm. It was at this time that he was one of the chief negotiators of the McCrone Agreement.

He had particular skills in obtaining the best from the lay officials of the association particularly the presidents who came and went during his time. The challenge of "managing" presidents is considerable but Mr Eaglesham exercised a combination of charm and empowerment that did the trick.

The SSTA beyond Scotland was an area that he developed tirelessly. He was convinced that what is a small association should punch above its weight. Those who accompanied him on foreign trips were aware of this as he secured status for the SSTA in the international context. His colleagues remember grappling with the niceties of single transferrable voting when the SSTA was given the responsibility for administering an European Trade Union Committee for Education election in Brussels.

However, lighter moments abound and Mr Eaglesham in characteristic full Highland dress at a dinner in Thailand was a sight to behold. On another occasion, a visit with to the downtown bar area of Pattaya ended in some singing with most of the group doing our tuneless raucous party pieces. When Mr Eaglesham's turn came he silenced an entire bar full of international revellers with a fantastic rendition of the Irish ballad She Moved Through the Fair.

His contribution to the development of the SSTA was huge. As was his determination to modernise its practices and he achieved this with remarkably little ruffling of feathers. Outstanding was his management and direction of the SSTA's move from Dundas St to Dalry.

Everyone on the property sub-committee will recall trudging around countless premises under Mr Eaglesham's military style direction, hardhatted and exhausted until suitable premises were found. Without him, this would never have happened.

His colleagues used to joke that they should apply the Louis XVth tag to his post-retirement - "après moi le deluge". Though not entirely true, Mr Eaglesham was a hard act to follow.

He retired from his work with the SSTA in 2008 and was able to spend more time with his family. He died in St Columba's Hospice after a year-long illness.

He is survived by his wife, Doreen, three children and four grandchildren.

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