Many headteachers across Scotland were saddened to hear of the passing of Alastair McLachlan at the beginning of January. Alastair retired from his post as rector of Lornshill Academy, Alloa, in 2003 after 15 very successful years, having left his indelible mark on staff, pupils and parents, and on the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. He was fiercely loyal to the school, its pupils and staff and championed them at every opportunity (a younger Jack McConnell graced the maths department at that time!).
Alastair's final post with the authority was when he was drafted into the centre to look after the PPP bid for Clackmannan-shire. He left at Christmas 2003 on grounds of ill health but would have been happy to know the deal reached financial close and Mr McConnell cut the first turf to replace the school he loved.
I first met Alastair at Jordanhill College where I was trying to learn the trade and he was one of the new blood appointments keeping the college up to date with the realities of classroom experience. The department then was as fine a group of Englishdrama lecturers in education as you are likely to get, with names like Jimmy Inglis, Jim Allison, Syd Smith, David Menzies and Colin Holroyd, and Alastair was not out of place in their company.
Aside from his excellent lecturing skills, which benefited from his academic standing and deep appreciation of the issues facing the teacher in the classroom, Alastair was hugely personable. His quick turn of wit, his flourish with the English language, his outstanding skills as a raconteur, all conspired to make him a popular and respected figure at the college.
I rejoined Alastair in Glasgow and finally as heads together in HAS. His local HAS colleagues remember with affection the headteachers' meetings which were never complete without a story from Alastair which left all in stitches. Latterly, the same wit was directed at what he saw as an unrelenting period of change and he would argue, persuasively, humorously and forcibly for a period of stability to allow initiatives to develop properly. Nationally, his repartee and questions at conference and notably his after-dinner speech only a few years back were enjoyed by all.
Alastair will be remembered by many as an outstanding tennis, squash and golf player; by others as a highly entertaining and witty after-dinner speaker; by others as a Burns aficionado; by some as an extremely competent pianist and singer; by those in the locality as a pillar of the community and church. But he will be remembered by all who knew him as a man of unfailing kindness, generous in word and deed, a devoted family man with deep conviction of faith who put into practice what he preached.
The educational community in Scotland and HAS have lost a character and a friend whose example, were it followed, would do the whole of Scottish education the world of good.
Our thoughts go out to Anne, Fraser and Kirsten, his family.