Sometimes in life, we meet someone who impacts us in such a way, we know that even though they are no longer with us, they will never actually leave. For me that person was the late Archie Bevan.
Archie was very well known, and equally well liked and respected by all who knew him in Stromness and further afield. He worked as an English teacher and many locals have fond memories of being taught by him at the nearby secondary school. I’ve heard many stories of how he managed to make lessons interesting and engaging.
I came to know Archie later in his life and I feel privileged to have been allowed into his family and world for his last remaining years. At the point of meeting, Archie was beginning to struggle with memory problems due to dementia but his character continued to shine through. His face lit up whenever you walked into the room, he was interested in all my stories and a great encouragement in all my ventures and desires to improve my writing skills. He and his wife Elizabeth were always keen to encourage any passion for creativity be it through writing, art, music or drama.
Archie enjoyed walking very much and we had many walks together taking in the views of Stromness and listening to the soothing sound of the sea.The photo below was taken exactly two years ago today on 1st March 2014. Archie was quite amused by the concept of selfies and I can still remember him peering into the camera with a cheeky smile on his face. He had a great sense of humour and very sharp wit and while he struggled to fully express himself in later years, his understanding was still very acute. He didn’t miss a trick. There were many evenings of much merriment as his wife Elizabeth and I put the world to rights and Archie would chip in. I remember one conversation when I was alone with him.
‘what is your daughter studying at uni?’
‘oh dear, poor girl’ he said with his usual twinkle in his eye and laugh.
I also remember there being hysterics as Archie was watching an England/Scotland football match. My husband is Orcadian and I am English. England were doing well and I received a text from Orkney Beef telling me I was locked out and was welcome to sleep in the shed. This produced much laughter from Archie and Elizabeth.
On March 2nd 2015, Archie was laid to rest following a short decline in his health and a peaceful passing. I loved him very much, and memories of his grace, kindness, humour and character, despite his failing health, is something I will never forget.
I am so grateful too, to his dear wife Elizabeth for giving me permission to remember Archie here. She reads the blog daily and is flying the flag for me to continue. I hope to do just that. His family too, always made me so welcome and their embracing nature is a credit to the example he clearly set.
Thank you Archie for all that you taught me. My only regret is that I didn’t know you longer. Rest in Peace dear friend.