Memorial window tribute to minister

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Carrie-window-wA MUCH loved minister from Cardross was commemorated in 2010 by the creation of a stunning memorial window in the church which was his charge for 37 years.

The picturesque South Queensferry Parish Church was packed on Sunday August 22 for the dedication of the window installed in memory of the Rev John Gilbert Carrie, BSc, BD, who grew up in the village and was a former pupil of Larchfield (now Lomond) School.

Born in Glasgow in 1943, John, whose brother Alan lives in the burgh and who has another brother Martin, died suddenly at his home on March 5 2008 at the age of 64, just six months before he was due to retire.

The John Carrie Memorial Window was designed and executed by Roland Mitton, a renowned Scottish stained glass artist.

A leaflet prepared by the congregation said: “The theme of the Good Shepherd was chosen by the Memorial Committee. It is a much loved theme in Scottish stained glass, but was interpreted in a more contemporary way.

“The Good Shepherd represents Christ of course, but also resonates with the energy and character of John himself.

“The deep roots of John's ministry, established over a period of 37 years in Queensferry, are depicted as roots growing upwards from the base of the window, weaving and connecting the varied aspects of his life and ministry.

“John's love of the outdoors and Scottish landscape is suggested within the framework of the window — from thistles at the base, through the bluebells, autumn trees, hills and mountains, while the birds represent his vital freedom of spirit.

“He was the instigator and driving force behind the annual Forth Road Bridge Cross, and the image of the Road Bridge celebrates both this major charity event, and John as a ‘builder of bridges’ in all senses of the word.

“John's caring nature and love of family draws a parallel with the Good Shepherd tending his flock, while the vibrant sunset and autumn colours celebrate the nature of the man and his enduring impact.”

After graduating from Glasgow University with a degree in chemistry and the city’s Trinity College with a degree in divinity, John went on to serve as assistant minister at Linwood for two years before being called to the kirk in the historic burgh in the shadow of the Forth bridges near Edinburgh in November 1971.

Being technically minded, one of his early projects involved the installation of solar-panel heating to one of the buildings in the church complex on the west coast island of Iona. Using his skills in the art of persuading people to use their own talents, he encouraged a group from the congregation to carry out the work.

He served as chaplain to three primary schools and a high school, and to local organisations including Scouts, Guides and Boys Brigade. From 1972 he led the Forth Bridge Cross, a sponsored fun walk which in his time raised over £70,000 for Christian Aid.

For 14 years he was a key figure in Queensferry Churches Care in the Community, which now looks after older people and carers in that area, only retiring as chairman in 2006. He was also involved in church work in Africa and Peru.

A regular player in the early days of Helensburgh Rugby Club, he went on to become a keen climber, walker, marathon runner and traveller. He was also a regular broadcaster with his local radio station, Jubilee FM.

rotary_emblemHe was presented with the highest honour given by the Rotary International organisation, the Paul Harris Fellowship, in 2007 by the Rotary Club of Queensferry to recognise his contribution to the community, one of only two men to be put forward by the club in recent years.

He was originally nominated for one of the club's annual community service awards, but on reflection members decided that he was an ideal candidate for the Fellowship.

A club spokesman said: “Rotary's motto is 'Service Above Self', and John Carrie too has clearly taken on board these words in his profession.”

The Fellowship is not often granted — the Helensburgh club has only presented it on half-a-dozen occasions — and even more rarely to non-rotarians like John.

John said after the presentation ceremony in Kirkliston: “I am very grateful to the Rotary Club for choosing to acknowledge what I have done. My wife Annette and I are very happy here, and very fortunate that the community has given so much support to our family.”

An obituary for him in the Scotsman stated: “John was a man of original thought. Over the years he continuously introduced new projects to involve the congregation and new orders of service to encourage and maintain its interest.

“This, by no means, applied only to adults. The full pews at the family service on Sundays reflected his interest in the young and their affection for him. There was always great interaction, stimulating thought and, more often than not, a smile on everyone's face.”

He is gratefully remembered, and the congregation's leaflet concluded: “This beautiful window will act, for years to come, as a fitting memorial to a much loved and truly remarkable man.”

John was survived by his wife, daughter Jennifer, son Gordon and his four grandchildren.