SCOTLAND: Inverness Deaths

Douglas Gllespie has died at the age of 64Douglas James Gillespie, chartered surveyor, assessor, electoral registration officer, member of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. Born: 12 March, 1952 in Stirling. Died: 17 February, 2017 in Inverness.

Douglas Gillespie, the former assessor to the Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board and electoral registration officer for Highland Council and, latterly, a member of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland – where his keen intelligence was highly valued by his fellow members – died in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, from lung cancer. He was 64.

Gillespie was born in Stirling, where his father, Ronald, was company secretary for Col Sir David Stirling’s estate in Dunblane. The family lived at St Ninians, moving to Bridge of Earn when Ronald became the accountant for Balmanno Estates. The 14-year-old Douglas transferred from the High School of Stirling to Perth Academy and he sought a summer job working on the River Tay fisheries, where his lifelong attraction to the outdoor life found early expression.

A sharply contrasting environment presented itself when he joined Dundee City Assessor’s office as a trainee chartered surveyor in 1972 and gained his senior qualification the following year. The North Sea oil and gas boom was in its exciting infancy and when Douglas moved in 1974 to the Glasgow office of Gerald Eve, the international property consultants and chartered surveyors, he specialised in the rating appeal portfolio, which included onshore developments.

 At this time Scotland’s east coast local authorities eyed the offshore bonanza covetously and a ferment of interest was whipped up when Fife proposed to impose business rates on the North Sea platforms – and on the Fife-side portions of the Forth and Tay bridges – on the grounds that the county supplied them with police, fire and medical services.

While Fleet Street columnists conjured visions of Auchtermuchty and Lochgelly basking in Saudi-style opulence, exemptions were swiftly put in place to put an end to the improbable prospect.

Douglas’s responsibilities with Gerald Eve extended to rating appeals in England – Newcastle and Sunderland were the responsibility of the Glasgow office – and he joined the asset valuation team, dealing with Marks & Spencer and Tarmac, but his taste for rural endeavour prompted him to return to the Tay fisheries. He was allocated a live-in bothy at Inchyra where, after work shifts, he read numerous studies of philosophy, history and religion and where he welcomed close friends to a roaring fire, a dram and debate long into the Perthshire nights.

Douglas returned to surveying with Strathclyde Regional Council’s assessor’s department in Glasgow, where he met Iris Clarke, a speech therapist whom he subsequently married, and he became an area valuer with Central Regional Council in 1985 to be nearer the cottage he had bought in Killin. He proposed that he and Iris should live there according to sound ecological principles, using John Seymour’s writings on self-sufficiency as a guide.