Soldier and charity worker;
Born: August 17, 1956; Died: October 15, 2012.
Neil Griffiths, who has died aged 56, was a soldier before becoming a charity worker for the Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) and Poppy Scotland. As his sister Rowena recalled: "He understood soldiers, he understood that rank structure. It gave him the basis to work with the veterans and offer the support they required."
Although born in Edinburgh, Mr Griffiths was educated at the Oriel House preparatory school in St Asaph, north Wales, where his father, Major Duncan Griffiths of Wigtown, was serving with the Welch Regiment.
He returned to Scotland as a teenager to attend Fettes College in Edinburgh, after which he studied at the Napier College of Commerce and Technology, later part of Napier University.
At the age of 19 he joined the Royal Hampshire Regiment, serving in Northern Ireland and Hong Kong, the latter then a British colony, from 1975-76.
After returning to civilian life he had several jobs before becoming press officer for the then joint secretariat of the Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) and the Earl Haig Fund Scotland (later Poppy Scotland) in 1994.
He acted as spokesman on a wide range of issues while publicising social and ceremonial events. An early highlight was Tartan Jumbo in 1995, when hundreds of Scottish veterans flew to London in a specially chartered BA 747 to take part in celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of VJ Day.
He would also recite the poignant Binyon's Lines at the annual Garden of Remembrance ceremony in Princes Street Gardens.
He used his annual leave to raise more than £900,000 by organising several charity walks on behalf of the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT), which supports more than 8000 retired Gurkha soldiers or their widows in Nepal with no other form of income.
What became known as the Gurkha Highlander Walk comprised a 200-mile, eight-day trek across the Highlands of Scotland. He completed his first in 2001 when he led a party of five Gurkhas along the old Twelve Passes route from Mallaig to Stonehaven.
The year before he walked the 240-mile Southern Upland Way with five Gurkhas, again in aid of the GWT, and in 2002 he completed a hat trick with a 160-mile walk down the Outer Hebrides from the Butt of Lewis to the island of Barra.
He bowed out after the 2006 walk, but left "operating instructions" for anyone willing to emulate his creation. His first instruction was "choose your Gurkhas", he himself having sourced his own companions from among The Queen's Gurkha Signals and the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
A familiar figure at pro-Gurkha events and medal ceremonies in the UK and Nepal, he also wrote three books about his walks, Gurkha Reiver: Walking the Southern Upland Way (2003), Gurkha Highlander: Walking Mallaig to Stonehaven (2004), and Hebridean Gurkha: Walking the Outer Isles (2005), which attracted praise from actress Joanna Lumley, the public face of various Gurkhas' rights campaigns.
His day job also gave him a high media profile, frequently broadcasting and writing on behalf of two major charities (after 2001 he worked solely for RBLS). A fluent writer, he edited about 100 editions of the bi-monthly RBLS in-house journal Scottish Legion News, and took many of the magazine's photographs. Legion affairs officer Kevin Gray said he was "well liked and highly respected", as well as "the consummate professional in everything he undertook".
He was not afraid to intervene in controversial issues. In 2010 he attacked the British National Party for its "troops out of Afghanistan" campaign, while in October 2011 he called on the Occupy Glasgow group to leave its encampment near the George Square war memorial, arguing that it threatened to disrupt forthcoming Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday services.
Last year he marked the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion with a lyrical piece about the organisation's history. "The Legion reminds us that we are not alone," he wrote. "We have responsibilities and they can be met more easily if we do it together." And just a week before his death, he appeared on STV's Scotland Tonight programme to discuss the UK Government's plan to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War in 2014.
A keen reader (in English and German) and a crossword fan, he was an adventurous traveller, within Scotland and beyond. He completed three trips to the Sahara and one to Iceland, and was planning a huskies-and-sledge journey to see the Northern Lights in Finland when he passed away.
He is survived by his mother Ann, sisters Alison and Rowena, and brother Ewen.
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