John Archibald Frew 1921-1984

My dad, John Archibald Frew, of Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland suddenly died thirty-six years ago this day, just after midnight on January 1st, 1984, shockingly, shortly after I’d celebrated the bells with him.

Consequently, this time of year is never easy – even after all these years. In those early years afterwards it haunted me, especially at Hogmanay, a time when I would be sure to travel to Edinburgh each year, to be under the stars on the High Street at the Tron Kirk with thousands of others,purely to escape the suffocating sense of his loss and to feel closer to him.


There’s never a day that passes that I don’t think of him, all he imparted to me, the lessons he taught me. I can hear the soft tones of his voice any time I care to listen in my mind. John was the product of a very hard background. The grinding poverty of the 1920s and 1930s meant that he often went without shoes on his feet as a boy. His upbringing helped toughen him as hard as teak for the trials he would go through subsequently in his adult life. Let it not be ignored though that he could show rare wisdom and at times be a very funny man indeed.

He strived for a living in the mines of Scotland as a young boy of fourteen years, working all day long partly immersed in the water of ‘wet pits’. Following that, he worked at the naval base in Scapa Flow, Old Norse meaning, ‘bay of the long isthmus’ on the remote, Scottish Island of Orkney, then travelled the world many a time as a proud Merchant Seaman. The German U-Boats tried their utmost but couldn’t kill him off in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

In current times, he would have been so proud, I know, to think that Scotland, the country he loved so much, could have the opportunity to stand alone and manage its own affairs.

My dad was my rock and his memory remains that to this day. I owe him much.

Fond memories. John Archibald Frew 1921-1984 ‘Life’s work well done’.

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