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Harry Gould: Brother’s tribute to Fife teacher who died playing golf

The retired Bell Baxter history teacher from Markinch passed away aged 74.

Retired Bell Baxter teacher, and former referee, Harry Gould.
Retired Bell Baxter teacher, and former referee, Harry Gould.

The brother of former Bell Baxter teacher Harry Gould has paid tribute to him after his sudden death while playing golf.

The 74-year-old retired SFA referee from Markinch, Fife, had a Belgian hotel wing named after him and counted The Proclaimers among his former pupils.

“He was more than my brother, Harry was my best friend,” said Bryan Gould.

Markinch born and raised

Harry Gould was born on April 23 1949, in Newport-on-Tay.

The first son of Jean and Harry Gould of Markinch, he started life in School Street but moved to Northall Road when his younger brother Bryan came along.

A third generation Harry – coming after his dad and grandfather – the Markinch primary pupil moved on to Buckhaven High School where he joined the rugby team and Glenrothes Cricket Club.

Former referee and Cupar teacher Harry Gould of Markinch.

“Harry inherited all the sporting genes in the family it would seem,” said Bryan. His later life would bear witness to this.

After secondary school, Harry moved on to study history at Dundee University. During the summer he worked at the Tullis Russell paper mill, and was a postman at Christmas.

Following his graduation he enrolled at Dundee College of Education to qualify as a teacher.

Bell Baxter High School

His first post was a three-year stint at Waid Academy, Anstruther, before moving on to Bell Baxter High.

He remained at the Cupar school, which lists Proclaimers stars Charlie and Craig Reid as former pupils, for 36 years.

Mainly teaching history, with some “bursts of modern studies”, it was his over-and-above activities that established his legacy.

Harry enjoying moules-frites on the Ile d’Oléron.

Alongside PE teacher and rugby fan Jimmy Russell, Harry helped establish the annual Bell Baxter Sports Tour.

“A trip not a holiday” to France, pupils would play against similar-aged pupils from the continent. One notable past participant was St Johnstone idol Stevie May.

Belgian battlefields

The other tour which Harry was instrumental in establishing was the school’s Battlefields Tour, which he led for 32 years.

Every year a coachload of Bell Baxter pupils arrived in Langemark, near Ypres in Belgium. There, the party visited First World War sites in Flanders and in France, to learn about the conflict, and to honour the fallen.

Harry encouraged his students to dig into their family history to find out if a relative was commemorated or buried in the region they were visiting.

If this was the case he would supply memorial crosses to be inscribed and placed appropriately.

“The youngsters and their families appreciated this gesture. It was often the only time a relative’s final resting place had been honoured in this way,” said Bryan.

The Block Gould

Over the years around 1000 young people from north-east Fife made the trip.

Harry forged a firm friendship with the owners of Hotel Munchenhof, Hubert and Nathalie D’Hoine and in 2011 when the Munchenhof opened its extension it was named Block Gould. Harry’s image appeared on the keycards and signage, and he was guest of honour at the official opening.

Harry Gould, right, presenting Hubert and Nathalie D’Hoine with a bottle of whisky.

Since his retirement Harry attended Battle of the Somme commemorations on July 1, usually sporting his Raith Rovers McCrae’s Battalion top.

Then every November, Harry and friends also visited Belgium to lay a wreath on behalf of Markinch and Thornton Parish Church, during the last post ceremony.


His interest in football led him to train as a Category 1 SFA referee.

Highlights of his career included being assistant referee at the Scottish Cup semi-final in 1994 between Aberdeen and Dundee United, and that same year officiating in the league cup semi-final between Aberdeen and Celtic.

Other notable moments were refereeing at a European Under-21 fixture between Iceland and Finland and at the World Cup qualifier match between Finland and Bulgaria.

When he no longer officiated, Harry trained upcoming referees and acted as an observer, submitting reports on how younger officials conducted games at the junior level.

He was a member of SFA Referees (Fife) for more than 50 years, and acted as treasurer for more than 30.

In 2019 he received an award for more than 40 years’ service to refereeing, from the SFA.

Balbirnie Park Golf Course

An elder of Markinch and Thornton Parish Church, a helpful neighbour and a member of Crawford Priory Curling Club, Harry was a welcome presence in whatever community he was part of.

His retirement also meant he got his money’s worth out of his golf club subscription – he and his friends James and Sandy played nine holes, Monday to Friday.

As he put it: “This left the weekends for the workers.”

After their round, they would sit in the clubhouse with a coffee and put the world to rights.

Harry Gould, who passed away during a round of golf at Balbirnie Park.

“The day before he died, Harry scored a hole-in one at the seventh and was so pleased he even bought a round of drinks for everyone in the clubhouse at the time,” Bryan said.

Harry died suddenly of a heart attack, at Balbirnie Park Golf Club, on May 24, while playing a round.

Two ambulance crews and an air ambulance attended but he couldn’t be revived.

“It’s been a huge shock to us all but we are very grateful to the Balbirnie Park, Police Scotland, paramedics, and the crew of the air ambulance, who all did their best to bring Harry back,” added Bryan.

“As well as being my big brother, Harry was my constant companion through life – always there for me, wanting to help and support me in any way.”

Final farewell

A celebration of Harry’s life took place at Kirkcaldy crematorium, on Thursday June 22. Donations went to Markinch and Thornton Parish Church and the British Heart Foundation.

“His friends from Belgium, and around 200 others, attended the funeral. I know he would be so touched by that. It certainly meant a lot to us as well,” added Bryan.

Cupar Hearts also held a minute silence for Harry at their last match.

You can read the family’s announcement here.