Alastair Milne, who was a leading Scottish educational psychologist with a particular interest in special needs, has died aged 81 after a brief illness.
Mr Milne, who was awarded the OBE, was born into a well-known Aberdeenshire farming family but, unlike his elder brother, chose not to follow in the family tradition.
Instead, he decided on a career in education. He was educated at Banff Academy, where he was dux, and at Aberdeen University where he gained two degrees. After national service he had a brief teaching spell at Fyvie school in Aberdeenshire, creating a strong bond with his young pupils which survived for many years.
This was followed by a move back to Aberdeen to join the Child Guidance Service, this being the start of his lifelong devotion to the interests of children with special needs. In 1958 Mr Milne married Margaret, the daughter of his former headmaster at Banff, and in 1962 the couple, now with their young son Alan, moved to Broughty Ferry when Mr Milne accepted a position in the educational psychology department of Dundee College of Education.
The years there gave him many opportunities for research into his specialist interest in child psychology and special needs.
The next career move to Glasgow in 1969 was also significant, when he joined HM Inspectorate of Schools for Special Education. He remained in this role for the next 20 years, overseeing the opening and operation of many special schools around Scotland, and travelling across Europe and beyond to look at other comparative systems.
He was appointed a member of the prestigious Warnock Committee, looking at integrating special needs children into mainstream education, and was also influential within the inspectorate in ensuring that due importance was given to this vital area of education. On his retiral in 1989 he was awarded an OBE for his outstanding services to education.
In 1977 Mr Milne’s wife Margaret died suddenly, leaving him with a teenage son and more domestic tasks than he may have known existed. He tackled this dramatic change in life with typical resolve, developing an interest in cooking which took him to cooking courses at home and abroad.
His move to a West End flat triggered another interest in art, design and furnishings, and he always had some scheme in mind for internal improvements. He enjoyed social intercourse and good conversation, and one of his greatest pleasures was eating out with friends in good restaurants. He was a popular guest at lunch and dinner parties, and this became a feature of his lifestyle in later years.
The travel bug also took hold, and in retirement Mr Milne travelled extensively and frequently to many parts of the world, sometimes on his own but often with good friends who shared his love of visiting other places and peoples.
At home he kept in contact with many of his former colleagues. He was an enthusiastic member of Kelvin Probus Club and its walking group, cycled most weeks, and read voraciously everything from biographies to crime thrillers, in between completing general knowledge crosswords and quickly solving the fiendish levels of Sudoku puzzles.
Mr Milne’s unexpected death was a great shock to his many friends, and to his neighbours at Kelvin Court where he was one of the longest inhabitants and a pillar of the local community. He is survived by his son Alan, daughter-in-law Rosa, and grandson Stuart.