The Cliffburn Hotel wouldn’t have been the same without Bruce Donald.
For the Forfar-born bar hotelier dedicated his life to the hospitality industry, with nowhere benefitting more than his favourite Arbroath hotel.
Bruce Donald was born on Lour Road, Forfar on June 27, 1932.
He was one of five boys and three girls for Betty and Henry Donald.
With such a large family, Betty remained at home while Henry worked as a factory fireman.
Bruce attended Forfar West School then moved up to the Academy.
But it was his next step that shaped his life.
The 15 year-old went from behind a desk to behind a bar – despite not being old enough to either drink or serve alcohol.
Made for the job
His first job was in Forfar’s County Hotel.
And from there he moved to Marykirk Hotel then on to Lunan Bay.
Tom Dempster is Bruce’s nephew-in-law.
He said: “The family story goes that as soon as everyone saw him in his white shirt and black bow tie they knew he’d found his vocation.”
Working as a cocktail waiter Bruce often enjoyed visits from his brothers.
But while Jim was a regular in the bar, Harry was the policeman making sure the strict licensing laws were adhered to!
Cliffburn in Arbroath
From Lunan Bay, Bruce became manager of the Cliffburn Hotel in Arbroath.
He stayed there most of his working life apart from a short stint at the Windmill Hotel.
The Cliffburn – a popular location for weddings and other large functions – offered Bruce a chance to polish his skills as a Master of Ceremonies.
He also picked up cooking skills from his time there too.
Another blessing from his time at the ‘Cliffie’ was meeting his life-long companion Agnes Beattie.
Working part-time sorting out the wages at the Cliffburn, the pair formed a lasting bond.
He loved to serve others
Bruce, who latterly enjoyed hillwalking, loved to travel in his younger years.
Spain and Tenerife were favourites but he also visited more exotic climes such as Thailand and what was then called Rhodesia.
A hands-on manager, he lived in a flat above the hotel with his dog Skip for company.
Hosting and entertaining brought Bruce huge joy.
Whether making stovies for Monday night darts teams or five course Hogmanay banquets for family, he was never happier than when he was serving others.
When good friends Dite Reid and Nicol Smith came off the boats carrying huge bags of prawns, Bruce cooked them there and then.
Of course, he was fond of a fishing trip himself.
He loved to accompany the men on the June Rose – especially if a trip to Mallaig was on the cards.
In the 70s Bruce became a shareholder in the Windmill Hotel, which he also managed.
But he soon returned to the Cliffburn before retiring in 1983.
With lots of time ahead, Bruce moved to Hospitalfield where he loved to garden and entertain.
When his beloved Skip passed away he would offer to dog-sit for anyone who’d have him, until he inherited Sam – a King Charles Spaniel.
Other hobbies included picking up his paper and doing the Telegraph crossword for as long as he was able.
Although they never married, Agnes and Bruce spent many years together.
Saturdays were their day for going out for lunch – usually to the Aboukir Hotel in Carnoustie.
And on Fridays Bruce took Agnes a copy of the Herald, until his health deteriorated and she took it to him instead.
Christine, Bruce’s niece, said: “He was just so generous, so kind and always had time for everyone.
“He was the heart and soul of our family gatherings and will be greatly missed.”
A celebration of his life took place at Park Grove Crematorium.
His favourite songs – including the Skye Boat Song and Highland Cathedral – were played.
You can read the family announcement here.