14th August 2009 at 01:00

Dave Aitchison, who died last month at the age of 58, had a passion for life and was highly regarded in many circles.

The 700 friends, family, colleagues and pupils who attended his funeral were a testament to the respect he received, as a teacher at Millburn Academy in Inverness, as an international rugby player and coach, as a 5 handicap golfer, as a friend and as a family man.

The events leading to Dave's passing made national news. He fell unconscious at the wheel of the school minibus while driving to Inverness from Plockton, following a successful match for his second year rugby team. Two of his pupils took control and safely guided the bus off the main road. Dave was proud of them, acknowledging that they helped avoid a potential disaster. They were later given bravery awards by the Scottish Government.

Dave was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour in March and, despite his strength and willpower, died at the Highland Hospice in Inverness on July 4.

He was born in Duns, Berwickshire, in January, 1951, and attended Longformacus Primary and Berwickshire High. His sporting talents were evident then, with natural skill at all ball games and athletics. His father's job in forestry brought the family north and Dave completed his secondary schooling at Golspie High.

He then studied at Jordanhill College, qualifying as a physical education teacher. During a break from teaching, he worked with his dad, Bill, in their fencing business, before returning to Millburn Academy.

He gained a science degree from the Open University, switching from teaching PE to biology. This was a vocational move for Dave, and rounds of golf were always enhanced when, for example, he explained the life-cycle and habitat of a group of small frogs he had spotted crossing the green. His love of teaching and golf were tightly bonded.

In the 1970s he was a Scotland B rugby international. He was selected for the full national team, but unfortunately broke his collar bone before being capped. Andy Irvine was then selected as Scotland's full back, with Dave sitting on the replacements' bench for a score of international matches.

His talents stretched beyond education and sport. Dave was a self-taught builder with the skills of any time-served tradesman.

Dave Aitchison was modest and generous of spirit, with little idea of the impact and influence he had on a huge number of people. He made a difference in every path he walked and will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered.

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