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Obituary: Monifieth man John Burdin, former schools inspector for Scotland and Dundee Mountain Film Festival founder

John Burdin.
John Burdin.

John Burdin, a Monifieth man and former HM Inspector of Schools for Scotland, has died aged 87.

He became one of the youngest of Scotland’s schools inspectors in 1965 with national remits including primary science and guidance, and a secondment for training science teachers in Malaysia.

He served until 1994, when he retired and established an education consultancy.

John also had a lifelong passion for the Scottish mountains, was a former president of the Grampian Club, a founder member of the Munro Society and founder of Dundee Mountain Film Festival.

He was born in Doncaster in November, 1934, the only child of Jack and Zoe Burdin.

John Burdin.

As a child during the Second World War he witnessed aerial dog fights and the blazing aftermath of a bombing raid on a Pontefract liquorice factory.

He was evacuated to his grandparents’ home in Pontefract in 1940 and later joined his parents in West Monkseaton, near Whitley Bay, in 1943.

At school at Whitley Bay Grammar and then Harrogate Grammar, John excelled academically and in sports including, rugby, cricket, tennis and javelin.


He studied zoology at King’s College, London University, where he was awarded the Jelf Medal for students who have distinguished themselves.

John continued to Leeds University where he completed his diploma in education, along with a sports coaching diploma.

It was through sport that John met his future wife, Mollie Platt.

They both played badminton, romance blossomed and they married at Netherfield Congregational Church, Penistone, in 1957 and went on to enjoy almost 65 years of married life.


Between 1957 and 1962, John taught biology in Leeds before taking up a post at Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow.

Two years later, he was appointed Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools for Scotland and the family moved to Broughty Ferry where John played cricket for Grove FP.

After moves around Scotland, John and Mollie settled in Monifieth and became embedded and involved in the community.

The area gave John easy access to the Angus Glens and Munros around Scotland.

John Burdin lived in Monifieth, where he had easy access to the Angus Glens.

In 1966 he joined the Grampian Club, based in Dundee, and served as president for a time.

In 1983 he founded Dundee Mountain Film Festival as part of a fundraising effort to rebuild the bridge at Bachnagairn in Glen Clova as a memorial to a Grampian Club friend, Roy Tait. He remained programme director until 2002.

John was a member of Monifieth Probus Club and served as vice-president and honorary secretary.


He was co-tutor on several Dundee University Continuing Education courses including, Journeys Through Mountains, and a Miscellany of Islands.

John was also honorary president of the Scottish Guidance Teachers’ Association.

He was father of four children: Julie, Susan, Heather and Andrew, grandfather to nine and great-grandfather to nine.

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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