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Council officer John steps into retirement after serving six Angus Provosts over 25 years

John Davie has stepped down after 25 years as Angus Council officer. Pic Paul Reid.

For quarter of a century, John Davie’s role has seen him rub shoulders with royalty, sporting superstars and military big wigs.

But as he hangs up the Angus Council officer’s dress tailcoat for the last time, it is the ordinary lads and lassies of the county who have left the fondest lasting memory on him.

Quietly departing the role with a minimum of fuss, the 68-year-old Dundonian has spoken of the honour of serving all six Provosts of Angus since local government reorganisation in 1996.

John Davie at the door of Forfar’s Municipal Buildings on his final day in the role. Pic Paul Reid.

After 23 years with the Royal Engineers in locations including Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf War and on attachment to the Sultan of Oman’s army in Yemen during the Dhofar War in the early 1970s, John left the military in 1993.

“I came out of the army and for three years was a chauffeur with Tayside Regional Council, then became one of the two council officers in Angus when it became a unitary authority,” he said.

Since then, John has been at the side of the civic figurehead at everything from Royal visits and Carnoustie’s Open Championship to Holyrood events and armed forces parades through Angus towns.

However, a council officer’s role extends well beyond that of being the Provost’s chauffeur.

They are involved in the organisation of the finest detail of major events and important local celebrations.

Six Provosts

“It has been a great job role and I enjoyed working with all six Provosts since 1996 – Frances Duncan, Bill Middleton, Ruth Leslie Melville, Helen Oswald, Alex King and Ronnie Proctor.

“There have been many memorable big events.

“But for the past 12 years I have been organising all the diamond weddings and 100th birthdays for Angus people and I would say that has been a real honour.

“Liaising with families to arrange the card from The Queen and the Provost’s visit, then meeting with them and having the privilege of making their day a special one has been a great thing.

A Forfar Freedom parade for The Black Watch 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots).

“Another part of the job has been organising freedom and homecoming parades for the armed forces and sometimes they have come fast and furious.

“It takes a lot of work, but it is a great to see them go well with the people on the streets of the towns.”

Sombre duty

In October 2016, John walked in front of the funeral cortege of Provost Helen Oswald as Carnoustie mourned the passing of the local councillor following a battle with cancer.

“It was a difficult day, but at the cemetery I had the duty of folding the saltire which was on her coffin and passed it to her husband, Ed. It was a real honour for me to do that,” John added.

John Davie carries the Provost’s chain at the funeral of Carnoustie councillor Helen Oswald in 2016.

“I could write a book about what goes on behind the scenes.

“It is all about the hours spent on the laptop or the phone taking care of all the organisation so that it all happens on the day as it should.

“And you have the responsibility of making sure the Provost’s chain is never out of your sight.

“God forbid if you just put the box down somewhere and accidentally forgot about it!

Provost’s praise

The figure on whose shoulders John has hung the ornate county chain for the past four and a half years has nothing but the highest of praise for the unsung hero.

Provost Ronnie Proctor said: “John has served as council officer to six Provosts in his time in Angus and he has done every one of us proud.

“Throughout all of that time he has worked tirelessly to make sure things go smoothly – whether it be for a 100th birthday or a Royal visit.

Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor and council officer John Davie. Pic Paul Reid.

“His attention to detail is absolutely incredible. Whatever he is organising, he looks at every angle and makes sure nothing is missed.

“He has been a great advert for the county of Angus in the way he has performed the council officer’s role and I would say he has certainly brought that wee bit of extra gravitas to it.

“The end of an era is often an over used phrase, but it definitely applies in this case with John’s departure from Angus Council.

“I personally am sad to see him go from the council but I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement, as I am sure my colleagues also do.”