Neil Holgate, who grew up in a mining family, spent a year on the picket line during the 1984 Miners’ Strike, and who went on to become a community safety warden in Fife, has died aged 63.
He was also a community councillor in Kirkcaldy, a voluntary prison visitor and a custody welfare visitor at police stations throughout Fife.
Neil died after a short illness. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 but went into remission.
However, this summer, he was diagnosed with cancer again and died 11 weeks and five days later.
His partner Grace Lowe said that after the diagnosis, it had been his ambition to go on one last cruise.
“He loved cruising and wanted to go on one last holiday but it was not to be,” said Grace.
“When I first suggested to Neil many years ago that we go on a cruise, he was not very interested but once he had been on one, he loved it.”
Neil Holgate was born in Dalkeith, Midlothian, the youngest of coal miner Benjamin and his wife Marion Holgate’s five children.
After he left school, Neil spent 10 years as a miner at Monkton Hall Colliery while living at Newton village.
Grace said: “Neil was very proud of being on strike for a year and the contribution he made.
“These were very hard times and he had to rely on what we now call foodbanks but he remained on the picket line.”
Move to Fife
In the late 1980s, Neil worked as a janitor at a college in Midlothian and had a spell working on railway lines before moving to Fife.
He was a caretaker with the then Dunfermline District Council at Broomfield flats and then its successor, Fife Council.
In 2008, Neil became a community warden working in the Templehall area of Kirkcaldy. It was a uniformed role and involved providing help to residents and dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Six years ago, the job changed and Neil became a community safety officer based in Cowdenbeath.
Grace said: “Neil enjoyed the interaction with people and helping when people got locked out of their houses for example.
“He also helped a lot of people who were vulnerable. Since his death I have come to realise he touched a lot of lives.
“The number of comments and messages has been overwhelming.”
Apart from his work with prisoners, Neil volunteered with the Clued Up charity in Kirkcaldy which helps people with alcohol and drug problems.
He was a dedicated follower of Hibs and enjoyed match day hospitality at Easter Road.
“Neil loved music of all sort, from Prince to the Rolling Stones, who we saw in Edinburgh. He was also a Formula One fan and we visited the Barcelona Grand Prix,” said Grace.
“One of the most important things about Neil was that he was a loving father and a doting grandad.”