It was with great sadness that all in the Buchan Battalion learned of the passing of one of our most respected officers, Lt Andrew West, at the age of 86 years.
Andrew’s path to the BB was not, perhaps, the most straight forward one. He had tried to join the 1st Fraserburgh Company in the 1950s but in those days of a booming roll Captain Sinclair put him on the waiting list. Never one to dwell on disappointments, he instead joined a rival organisation demonstrating a life-long trait not to allow himself to be held back but instead to get on with it!
Thankfully for us, he came back. Andrew’s BB career finally started the mid-1970s as a married man and father of two. His sons, Malcolm and David, were members of the 1st Fraserburgh but with a fledging Company Section, parents stepped in to help the company grow. Andra and his late wife Chris joined the Parent Fundraising Committee, neither of them leaving Christian Youth Work for the remainder of their lives. After Andra’s initial involvement, it wasn’t long before he was asked to instruct badgework classes for the Company and then, in 1983, he was invited to join the Company staff as a Lieutenant by Captain Sinclair the younger! He therefore had a 45 year association with the 1st Fraserburgh Company, 39 of those years as an Officer. For 28 years, from 1994, he was Company Treasurer.
It would be fair to say of Andra that he never occupied the centre stage. That was not ‘Mr West’. He typically worked behind the scenes, occupying important jobs on a Friday night, particularly the badgework. Like a good minister, Mr West gave a ‘long sermon’ in his classes providing genuine life-stories from his own experience for any topic or question that may arise. He was content being useful, doing his bit and helping others with no appetite for plaudits or recognition.
Most of our readers across the Battalion will know Mr West best of all for his role as Queen’s Badge Advisor; a duty he undertook for almost 24 years. Between 1997-2020 he guided hundreds of young men in Buchan through their Queen’s Badge journey. He was dedicated to that post and extremely thorough, ensuring that all his candidates had the best chance of achieving the highest award in the BB. His candidates were noted for the quality of their work, thanks in no small part to his role in ensuring that the agreed programme and the books were completed correctly and to the highest standard to the candidate’s ability. He became so respected by the Battalion Executive that in 2014 the Constitution was changed specifically to make the Queen’s Badge Advisor an Executive Office-bearer. Further, when he was finally able to leave the role in 2020 he was co-opted onto the Executive without portfolio, so valued was his wisdom and knowledge.
Andra was a dedicated Christian and on Sundays was always found in the Auld Kirk. He was ordained an Elder by the late Rev Douglas R. Clyne in 1976 and served his district dutiful for 45 years. He will be sorely missed by the Church.
Away from BB and Church his main passion was photography, serving as President of Fraserburgh Photographic Society for 43 years until he retired in 2019. Andra then served as Honorary President until his death. In October 2021 he was named on the Scottish Photographic Federation’s (SPF) Roll of Honour for 60 years service to the Fraserburgh Society – a lifetime achievement. The combination of Andra’s two life passions led to him building an archive of BB photography from the last 40 years; as in BB life, he preferred to be working away behind the camera rather than being in front of it.
Andra was predeceased by his beloved late wife Christabel in 2015 after 54 years of marriage. The President, Executive and all in the Battalion send our condolences to his sons Malcolm and David and to his wider family of whom he spoke often and was extremely proud. Always helpful; usually with smile; Mr West’s gentle humour and kind nature will be missed by all in our Battalion, and far beyond.
M A W Strachan
Queen’s Badge Advisor