One of the three founders of Rannoch School, John Fleming had immense charm and enthusiasm, and his respect for young people allowed them to maximise their potential. It was not what he said, it was what he was, and his influence on those who came under his guidance is now evident.

The younger of two children, John was born in 1925. His father was the Church of Scotland minister in Doune, Perthshire before the family moved to Nethy Bridge in 1932. John was educated at Gordonstoun under Kurt Hahn, whose philosophy would profoundly influence John's approach to education.

He trained with the RAF and got his wings on VE day, so never saw active service. While serving in Rhodesia, he flew Harvards and was capable of flying Spitfires, but his passion was the thrill of aerobatics, which he continued to practise after returning to Scotland. He was even known to perform private displays for his wife Elizabeth and their young family.

After leaving the RAF, John trained at Aberdeen teachers' training college and worked in state education for four years. He spent many a happy summer holiday camping with his family on Iona, where he helped with the rebuilding of the abbey.

In 1953, he joined the staff at Altyre House, an independent part of Gordonstoun School. In 1957, the then headmaster, Mr Chew, asked several members of staff to investigate the possibility of finding another larger location for Altyre. Although the governors eventually decided to rebuild Altyre within the main school grounds, the idea of a smaller independent school had taken root in John's mind.

By 1958, John and his colleagues, Pat Whitworth and Dougal Greig, had found a property at Dall, on Loch Rannoch, which was about to be sold by the Forestry Commission. Their offer of (pounds) 1500 for the property and 25 acres of land was accepted.

Following considerable renovation and refurbishment, John, his colleagues, and a further six staff opened Rannoch School in September 1959, with 82 boys, having originally expected an intake of between 30 to 40.

Word spread rapidly and by their second term the roll had risen to 138.

With Rannoch firmly established and offering a school experience not to be found elsewhere, John and his family moved to Box Hill School in Surrey. In 1971, they returned to Nethy Bridge, where he, and later his son John, developed one of the first self-catering holiday complexes, an early civic award winner. He served as a district councillor and his expertise in building renovation helped when necessary improvements were required at the Manse.

At his memorial service held in Nethy Bridge, former Rannoch pupil David Mills spoke of John and Elizabeth's encouragement to dare to do the impossible, and of John's maxim: ''If you put your mind to it, you can do it.''

John, who in his individual way touched so many lives, firmly believed that in education, the development of trust was paramount. It should be nurtured, not enforced, while encouraging a degree of individual responsibility for the wider community. In the case of Rannoch pupils, this was initiated through the membership of one of the community services of fire, forestry, ambulance, emergency, mountain rescue, loch patrol, and building maintenance.

Earlier this year, John and his family set off to revisit his beloved Iona for one last time, again a special time for them all. John's sense of humour, fun, and daring came out as he used his motorised scooter both on and off-road to the amusement of his grandchildren, just as he had done in his aerobatic displays for his children more than 50 years earlier.

During his last year, through almost the only period of serious illness in his long and active life, John was cared for at home by his beloved wife of 57 years, Elizabeth, supported by his children, John and Valery.

John Thorne Fleming,

founder of Rannoch School; born April 5, 1925, died November 3, 2003.