Senior civil servant and minister of The Church of Scotland

Born: January 8, 1942;

Died: November 12, 2017

KENNETH Peat Forrest, who has died aged 75, was a senior civil servant and minister of The Church of Scotland who was once a lunch guest of Fidel Castro.

He was born in 1942 and brought up along with his brother Gordon by his deeply devout Christian parents in Dennistoun, Glasgow. He attended Alexandra Parade Primary School and Whitehill Secondary and studied chemistry at Strathclyde University, graduating with an honours degree specialising in inorganic chemistry. He then undertook a PhD funded by the Science Research Council. He was awarded a Ramsay Memorial Fellowship at Cambridge although he never took this up. Instead, he undertook post doctoral research on x-ray crystallography at Glasgow University.

He joined the Science Research Council in 1970 where, alongside an advisory committee, he looked after the funding of multi million pound projects in civil and chemical engineering and aeronautics. From there he was offered a senior position in what became The Offshore Supplies Office (OSO) in Glasgow. It was later to be known as Trade Partners UK (TPUK) and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Ken, as he was commonly known, spent 25 years working there as a director until his retirement in 2002.

Dr Forrest dedicated his life to the civil service by promoting British business development in the oil and gas sector and travelled extensively, spending much of his time in China, Russia and South America. His career left a lasting legacy for the success for the sector and was recognised in the 2002 with the award of CBE.

During his time in the civil service, Dr Forrest worked closely with Cecil Parkinson, Helen Liddell, Brian Wilson, Prince Andrew and Lord Peter Fraser who was to become a dear friend as a result of their successful working relationship.

Dr Forrest and Lord Fraser set up their own consultancy business FraserForrest in 2006 and also helped establish the Anglo Azerbaijani Society, a charity set up to fund orphanages in Azerbaijan and to educate Azerbaijani children in the UK.

On retirement, Dr Forrest became a minister of the Church of Scotland, and baptised Lord Fraser’s grandchildren in 2007 at the Houses of Parliament; he also gave an address at Lord Fraser’s memorial service in 2013.

Dr Forrest recalled one trip to Cuba with a Government minister when they lunched with Fidel Castro. The lunch lasted far longer than had been anticipated and the minister's private secretary kept looking at his watch as Dr Forrest and the minister had an international flight to catch that afternoon. Castro noticed the private secretary fidgeting and looking at his watch and demanded to know what the issue was. When advised of the situation, Castro commanded he be brought a telephone. A number of orders were passed down the line and when the call ended he said “no problem, the plane will wait”.

Impressive as achievements in oil and gas were, it was of his calling into the ministry that Dr Forrest was most proud. He was ordained as an auxiliary minister of the Church of Scotland in 2006. Between 2006 and September 2017, Reverend Dr Forrest acted as interim moderator and locum in five separate churches in the Paisley and Greenock Presbytery.

On 10th August 1972 he married Fiona, a nursing sister, whom he had known all of his life. They grew up and attended school together in Dennistoun. They were a devoted couple for 45 years. Fiona survives him as does their son Douglas and daughters Edith and Marion and 5 grandchildren.