22 Mar 1951 – 19 Jul 2023
With the passing of Andrew Scobbie, Scottish ringing has lost one of its great ‘characters’.
Andrew was born in Scotland, but grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne and never lost his Geordie accent despite living at times in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cyprus and eventually back in Scotland. He also learnt to ring in Newcastle and fell in love with its football team. After school he took a degree in librarianship at Loughborough University, and worked in several librarian positions across the country before settling back in Edinburgh and running a mobile children’s library. For several years he sat on Edinburgh Council as Labour member for Oxgangs in the south of the city, chairing the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, working on the Transport committee, and serving on Heriot Watt University Court.
Andrew was a regular member of the St Mary’s band in Edinburgh and later attended practices at both St Cuthbert’s and St Andrew & St George’s. He rang a single peal – Grandsire Triples at Alloa in 1988. In his late fifties he started suffering from occasional trips and falls and general muscle weakness, which made climbing the steps to St Mary’s ringing chamber difficult, but this didn’t deter him from ringing elsewhere – always optimistically believing the exercise would help build his strength. The diagnosis, when it came, was that he had a rare autoimmune condition called myositis, in which the body’s immune system gradually destroys muscles tissue.
Andrew’s condition worsened over several years to the point where he was confined to a wheelchair, but he still liked to get ‘the wife – Hazel, Hazel – the wife’ to bring him to the pub for after-ringing drinks. Above all, Andrew loved chatting about all sorts of trivia he had picked up over the years. At his funeral, Hazel commented that she was first drawn to him because he could – and would – talk to anybody about anything. Never boring, indeed always entertaining, Andrew had a conversational style akin to origami; with him, barely connected subjects would keep unfolding and folding through a couple of white-wine-and-sodas, following every possible diversion, until eventually what he was explaining or remembering would take shape. Over time the pub visits gradually became more difficult for him, but were replaced by occasional visits to StA&G’s sanctuary during practices. But the cheery optimism (even in the face of adversity) and enjoyment of life remained, and his last evening was spent watching his beloved Newcastle beating Rangers in a pre-season friendly.
A quarter peal was rung on 3 September at StA&G in celebration of Andrew's life.