Fitting tribute to true Bo’nessian

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Winner of the John McLaren Trophy for services to the community in Bo’ness and veteran art teacher, Guthrie Pollock, has died in his 93rd year.

As Guthrie taught in every school in the town – apart from Deanburn – he was well known to thousands of former pupils.

Through his involvement in so many local activities from being an elder at St Andrew’s Church to supporting his beloved Bo’ness United at Newton Park, and from painting the scenery for countless Bo’ness Amateur Operatic shows and judging the arches at the Fair, he was looked upon as very much a Bo’nessian.

However, Guthrie was in fact born in 1926 over 3,000 miles away in Montreal, Canada, to which his parents had emigrated to escape the depression in Scotland.

Shortly after he was born, Guthrie’s father, who was a skilled marine draughtsman, got a job in a ship building yard on the St Lawrence seaway.

Guthrie started his schooldays in Canada but with war looming in Europe his parents decided to return with their only son to Glasgow.

However, the threat of German air raids resulted in him being evacuated to Bo’ness where he stayed with his grandmother and aunt, Miss Helen McLellan.

This remained his home until his death.

Aged 18, Guthrie was called up to do National Service. Thanks to his many talents, Guthrie soon came to the superiors’ notice and he was offered the opportunity to go on an officer’s training course.

This was not for him, though, and he chose to remain a squaddie.

It was the Army, however, which was responsible for Guthrie taking up teaching as a career and thanks to the post-war training scheme he went on to Edinburgh College of Art, now part of Edinburgh University.

Guthrie was subsequently appointed to his old school, Bo’ness Academy, and from here to visiting many schools.

During the 1957 summer holidays, Guthrie volunteered to help staff three of West Lothian’s summer camps.

This was expanded when Tam Dalyell presuaded him to take pupils on the cruise ship Dunera. Some of the ideas from the ships were incoporated into the traditional summer camps where by now Guthrie had become headmaster.

While in many ways Guthrie was a ‘careful’ man, he was just the opposite with his talents which he gave freely from donating 52 pints of blood to making all the props for his church summer schools and making many arches for the Fair.

It was this which led him to be appointed judge for the town’s annual arch competition – a post he only recently retired from.

It is sometimes said that old teachers never died, they simply lose their classes – but Guthrie never did.

He continued to teach at his popular art club at Cowdenhill Community Centre until two weeks before he was taken to hospital – this surely making him Scotland’s oldest teacher.

Very fittingly it is planned to hold an exhibition of his cartoons and art work.

At a crowded church service held in St Andrew’s, Guthrie was described as a true Christian gentleman.

A fitting tribute to this McLaren Trophy winner and true Bo’nessian.