Long-serving councillor

Born: March 9, 1937;

Died: March 29, 2017

JOHN Rosie, who has died aged 80, was one of Scotland's longest-serving councillors, representing Thurso in Caithness since 1964. He also gave long service to the Highland Health Board, including a term as its vice-chairman, and was a successful parliamentary general election organiser and trade union shop-steward.

One of a family of nine, he was born in Scotland's only north coast town and was elected to its town council when he was 29 years old. Thurso was one of only two small burghs in Scotland to be its own planning, building and development authority, so he early gained expertise in a wide range of council responsibilities.

Successively representing his home-town on Caithness County, Caithness District and the Inverness-based Highland Council, Mr Rosie died on the same day as its 2013/17 term expired, pending the elections in May 2017. Two of his family of three are candidates.

Over the years, the energetic Mr Rosie helped numerous townspeople with council-related problems and many were in the congregation for his funeral service at St Peter's and St Andrew's Church of Scotland on April 10 conducted by Kirk minister, the Rev David Malcolm.

In the 1964 general election, Liberal George Mackie had gained the Caithness and Sutherland seat with a majority of under 1,300.

With the creation of the Highlands and Islands Development Board by Labour and the decision by Prime Minister Harold Wilson's Government to site Britain's then ground-breaking Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay in Caithness, Labour activists in the far north sensed that they were in with a chance of taking the seat.

John Rosie was a leading activist in the team backing young Labour candidate Robert Maclennan, and his key role was mentioned in a tribute by the now Rt Hon Lord Maclennan of Rogart, read out at the service.

Lord Maclennan stated that he would remember John with warmth, recalling his early canvassing, door-to-door knocking, leafleting and posters in a well-oiled campaign.

This activity saw Labour gain Caithness and Sutherland from the Liberal MP by the wafer-thin majority of just 64 votes. This was the party's first win since the constituency was formed in 1918. Mr Rosie was a key man in the team that saw Labour retain the seat for the following five general elections.

Leaving school at 15, John Rosie first worked on local farms before working in radiological protection at the Admiralty Reactor Test Establishment, the Rolls Royce-operated site alongside the main civilian Dounreay site for trialling nuclear submarine reactor power-units. He retired in 1997 from Vulcan as health physics supervisor.

His retirement gave him more time to devote to council affairs, serving for a term from 1999 as convener of Caithness, which involved undertaking ceremonial duties and charitable events in addition to regular council and committee meetings.

Highland Council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson said of Mr Rosie: "John was an energetic man. He understood his communities and their strong sense of identity. He was a terrific champion for Thurso and Caithness."

The present Caithness civic leader, councillor Gillian Coghill said: "John was a highly effective councillor who always stood up for the people he represented. He always had something interesting to say and his excellent debating skills, often laced with a bit of humour, helped him win many arguments and causes."

John Rosie met his future wife Evelyn (nee Budge) at a country dance at Janetstown, near Thurso. The couple had 61 years of married life together.

Outwith local and national politics, Mr Rosie was a keen amateur footballer with Thurso Pentland FC in his young days. He was a fan of Scottish and Irish folk tunes and had a life-long love of classical music.

The Rosies have three children: Deirdre Mackay, who has represented both Wick and East Sutherland on the Highland Council for almost two decades and is standing again for Labour in next month's election.

Also standing for the Thurso area, but for the SNP, his youngest son Karl, who is constituency manager for the current Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross MP Paul Monaghan.

James, who is a senior manager on Conoco Philips Britannia Field in the North Sea, is the only sibling not involved in day-to-day politics.

Mr Rosie is survived by his children, his wife Evelyn, sister Isobel, seven grand-children and five great-grand-children.