Tributes to Frank: a real Bo’ness character

Frank Heggie
Frank Heggie

One of Bo’ness’s best known characters, Frank Heggie, has passed away at the age of 58.

Frank, a former Merchant Navy seaman, suffered ill-health and had spent time in Forth Valley Hospital the week prior to his death.

After leaving hospital his condition did not improve and, on Saturday night, he was taken by ambulance to Forth Valley, where he died from a perforated bowel.

Frank’s brother Mark said: “He was unique, an individual, not someone easily labelled and, despite his difficulties and demons in life, he approached every day in his own inimitable way.”

Frank grew up in Bo’ness and studied at Leith Nautical College, before joining the Merchant Navy.

He spent three years serving as a chef on British commercial ships, travelling extensively, including to Singapore and San Francisco.

After leaving the service he worked with his father as an industrial painter.

At the age of around 21, however, he began to experience various mental health problems.

He hated spending time in hospitals, preferring to be out in the open air, where he was happiest.

In Bo’ness, Frank was known to spend much of his time doing exactly that and was often spotted chatting to passers-by on Grahamsdyke Road or from his favourite spot at the benches on Market Street.

This week, Frank’s bench was laiden with bouquets and a tartan rug – a nod to his signature item of clothing.

A number of residents took to social media to call for a remembrance plaque to be placed there.

The Journal and Gazette understands that several Bo’ness shopkeepers have offered their financial support. However, any action taken will follow consultation with Frank’s family.

Councillor Ann Ritchie said: “Everybody in Bo’ness knew Frank and you won’t find anyone with a bad word to say about him.

“He was one of a kind and will really be missed.”

Ian Don, a local newsagent who was Frank’s unofficial photographer, set up the Facebook page “RIP Frank Heggie True Gentleman”, which at the time of going to press had received more than 900 ‘likes’.

Tributes flooded in on the Journal and Gazette Facebook page, with reader Gill Taylor saying: “Bo’ness will be an emptier place without him”.

Frank is survived by his parents, Ann and Francis, and siblings Mark and Linda.

His funeral details are yet to be announced.