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Born in Glasgow to Duncan Gillies of Tarbet, Loch Nevis and Mary McIntyre of Kildonan, South Uist, Archie Gillies was the youngest of five children, his surviving brother Duncan lives in Vancouver, Canada.
As a child Archie spent a lot of his time in Mallaig Bheag playing down by the shore or climbing the Cruach. He cemented local friendships that stayed with him throughout his life.
Aged 19, Archie travelled South to join the Metropolitan Police and found himself living in London’s notorious East End – a million miles away from Mallaig – where he tussled with, amongst others, the Kray Twins.
Here he flourished and his common sense, trustworthiness and sense of humour became legendary.
Having first clapped eyes on Moira Gallagher aged 15, he returned to Scotland to entice her away from Glasgow. His prowess as a sportsman and his success on the tennis courts meant nothing to her, he had to prove himself on the dance floor, which he duly did, she relented and married him in 1965.
Archie and Moira headed back down South where they had two children (Fiona and Rory) with English accents and Scottish sensibilities. The family continued to divide their time between north and south.
Archie’s links with the Highlands were fundamental to his life, they remained strong and central. He retained an interest in local affairs and never failed to take the opportunity to promote his homeland when he travelled to the corners of the globe.
He took great pride in stewarding the pipers at the Mallaig and Morar Games – his father Duncan had been a piper and judge and Archie hugely enjoyed the company of musicians.
Archie’s Highland background gave him a confidence, a positivity and a life-long delight in the company of others that was relished by those fortunate enough to come into contact with him.
The epitome of a Highland gentleman, Archie leaves behind a loving family, four proud grandsons and a wide community of friends who will sorely miss him.
In the words of Robert Burns….
An honest man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with His image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Beatha beò gu math (A life well lived)
Archie will be buried on February 5 in Wraysbury alongside his wife Moira. His family will hold a memorial/celebration for Archie’s life in August in the Highlands.