Born: April 23, 1926; Died: August 13, 2012.
If there was ever evidence of a life being lived to the full, it is in the life of Norman Caulfield Walker. His early years were spent in the village of Muirhead. He was educated first at Allan Glen's school and commenced his degree course at Glasgow University. While still aged 16, he volunteered for National Service and was called for training for aircrew in the Fleet Air Arm. Later he returned to complete his degree then served as an officer in the Royal Army Service Corps.
After the war, he qualified as an associate of the Textile Institute and subsequently joined his father in what was then the largest yarn agency in Scotland and Ireland. Significant changes in market conditions persuaded Mr Walker to consider an alternative career.
With his background in textiles and an awareness of the developing tourist trade, in partnership with his sister Isabell, he bought a former garage in Pitlochry and converted it into the first knitwear supermarket. The success of this venture led to the opening of further shops in many locations from John O'Groats to Jersey, with the number of Pitlochry Knitwear shops eventually exceeding 60.
His first marriage was to the talented Agnes McDonald and they had four children, Caroline, Niall, Craig and Angus. He was leader of the Clarkston Crusader Class from its inception and for many years was involved in related outdoor activities and camps when many of his lifetime friendships were forged.
Many people benefitted from Mr Walker's enterprise, generosity, vision and Christian faith, especially the Abernethy Outdoor Centres. The initial vision was formed when he was at a Crusader camp based at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms where skiing, hillwalking, sailing and more were offered.
It inspired him in 1965 to buy the estate of Abernethy with a view to using it as a place where young people could learn outdoor skills in a Christian environment.
In 1971 the Abernethy Trust was formed and Mr Walker conveyed the ownership of the property to it. The success of the centre inspired others to gift or offer equivalent buildings in other locations and within 15 years there were four centres. On the 40th anniversary of the trust, celebrated in December 2011, it was said that the total number of guests over the years was 450,000.
Mr Walker's leadership in business and in Christian organisations led to him being awarded an OBE. He was vice-chairman of the International Textile Institute, served as chairman of Scottish Crusaders, of the Bible Training Institute which later became the International Christian College, and was chairman of the Argyll and Islands Local Enterprise Company and of Iona Abbey Ltd when he was resident in Glenbarr.
His generosity was remarkable. In addition to the gift of the Abernethy estate, he, with his sister Isabell's support, set up a charitable foundation in 1980 which donated to many charities and individuals in need. In 1977 Mr Walker married Margaret. who provided wonderful support to him in his later years in business and they retired to Glenbarr in the Mull of Kintyre to farm Highland cattle and cashmere goats. Margaret especially supported him in the past two years when his health declined through Alzheimers.
He is survived by Margaret, his four children and his grandchildren.
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