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Lawrence Crawford

Colourful and popular hotelier on Arran;

Born: July 15, 1930; Died: February 3, 2013.

Lawrence James Crawford, who has died at the age of 82, was a well-known hotelier on Arran. Famous locally for his colourful language and his habit of referring to every one as "darling", stories of his expressions, experiences and antics regularly appeared in The Herald Diary.

For more than 50 years he ran the Kinloch Hotel, which became the entertainment centre for the west coast of the island. An unforgettable image was Mr Crawford in what would now be called the Kinloch corporate clothing: string vest, checked shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows and charcoal grey trousers. Several cigarettes would be smouldering simultaneously in every ashtray in both bars while he sat on his stool at the end of the public bar lighting another one. From that unique vantage point he had a window on the community and the comings and goings. There wasn't much he didn't see.

He was born in Glasgow, the son of Robert James Crawford, a chartered accountant, and his wife May. Early on the family moved to Singapore where they lived a privileged life although before the invasion of Singapore, young Lawrence, his mum and brother Robin were sent back to Glasgow for safety to live with family in Pollokshields.

He attended Glasgow Academy where his leadership skills became evident. He was school captain and later captain of the Glasgow Academicals First XV rugby team. During his national service, he was a lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry and served with the regiment in the Korean War. It was a time he rarely spoke of, but some of those experiences had a lasting impact.

His formative hotel management experiences were in the Bath Hotel in Glasgow and Russacks Hotel in St Andrews. He then decided this was the life for him and in 1954 he and his mother bought the Kinloch Guest House. Brother Robin joined them in the business which they ran together for 40 years until Robin's death in 1999.

Soon after moving to Arran, Mr Crawford's eye was attracted to a young Janess Hamilton. After persuading her to come and help him with the hotel's accounts, it wasn't long before he proposed. He had identified a perfect partner to help him with the difficult jobs. They married in 1964 and had four sons.

In his role as hotelier he was famous for a straight-talking, no-nonsense approach. On one occasion a customer being served at the bar complained there no potatoes in his tattie soup. Mr Crawford, in his inimitable fashion, reached over to another customer's plate of mince, picked up two potatoes and dropped them into the soup. "It's tattie soup now darling," he said.

When the bar was quieter he would join some of the then worthies at the table beside the open fire in the old wee bar for a game of dominoes or practise his other part-time profession as the in-house barber.

He was a forward thinker and built the hotel swimming pool. It was an important addition to the local community and many on the island learned to swim there and were taught by Mr Crawford.

Although he didn't believe in global warming, he also invested in green technologies – putting in solar panels and heat pumps more than 30 years ago. Sadly, he never did realise his ultimate dream of the much-discussed curling rink in the hotel and yacht pontoons at the mouth of the burn.

In the 1980s he was named Scottish Brewers' Local Hero – some say this was nothing to do with the quality of the beer but more down to him helping some of the local men find a wife by bringing in plenty of female summer staff.

He continued working until he was 77. Stopping work did not bring an end to his organisational skills – becoming a grandfather gave him a new lease of life and new people to organise and educate in the shape of his seven grandchildren.

He had been quite ill for a few months but never lost his humour. He was the Crawford family's dad and papa but considered he had two families – one at The Knoll and one at the hotel and he looked after both as best he could.

He loved his family, his hotel, the village, the island, his customers and the wider community – and he was proud and pleased to be part of it. He will be fondly remembered and the stories about him in the hotel will be retold many times and with great affection.

He is survived by his wife Janess, sons Robbie, Gavin, Stevie and Jamie and grandchildren Fraser, Lois, Stuart, Jordan, Kirsty, Lucy and Cara.

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