By Stephen Bunyan MBE, chairman of Dunbar Community Council

DAN Cairney, formerly of Dunbar, died at Muirfield Nursing Home, Gullane, on May 9. He was 89.

He was born on Church Street, Tranent, on April 26, 1929. He left school before he was 14 and went to work with Hope Brothers in Edinburgh. He went on to work for R W Forsyth’s in Princes Street.

He came to a post in the Co-operative society in Dunbar in 1954. He met Mary McCawley, from Hedderwick, whose aunt was his landlady. They all went to Our Lady of the Waves Church.

Dan and Mary were married on April 3, 1956. They had two daughters, Kathleen McLeish, who survives Dan, and Maureen Austin, who died in 1988. He had five grandchildren of whom he was very proud: Gary, Kieran, Mhairi, Christopher and the late Mark.

After some time, he returned to Edinburgh and worked at Ferguson’s on Easter Road, where he became a manager. He stayed with them until they closed. During this period, he became a master tailor and kilt maker. He became a travelling salesman for James Hare and then for Brook Taverner of Leeds.

In 1981, Dan Smith told him he was preparing to retire and suggested that Dan take over his long-established outfitting business at 55 Dunbar High Street. This was accomplished and Dan ran the business until 2001, when he retired. Dan did not carry on the ladies’ side of the business.

Although he had officially a half day on Wednesdays, in fact he usually visited special clients at home for tailoring appointments on those afternoons.

Dan involved himself fully in the life of Dunbar. He joined Dunbar Community Council in 1982 and became vice-chairman. He became chairman in 1992 and held the office until 1997, when he resigned from the community council.

Perhaps Dan’s greatest local achievement was saving the John Muir Birthplace. It became known in 1997 that it was being sold, probably in three sections. Dan called a meeting of interested parties and the John Muir Birthplace Trust was formed.

It proved possible to buy the Birthplace. The appeal was launched on Muir’s birthday in 1998 and its purchase was achieved by January 29, 1999. In September 1999, a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £292,000 was made for the development of the birthplace.

Dan was president of the Dunbar John Muir Association from 1997 till 2011. Dan supported The Dunbar Initiative which led to the building of the leisure pool and The Dunbar Townscape Heritage Initiative, which carried through a big programme between 2004 and 2009 to improve the High Street.

In his early career, Dan was an adult instructor in the ACF. He was also a member of Bohemian Society Lyric Opera Choir in Edinburgh.

In Dunbar, he was president of the Rotary Club twice. He was a member of Dunbar Probus Club. He was a keen supporter of Dunbar Bowling Club and he played golf. He was a member of the Twenty Club, a member of Dunbar Trades’ Association – which for a time he chaired – and a supporter of the tourist board.

His church was important to him and he and Mary were key members of the congregation of of Our Lady of Waves. He was president and lay chairman of the supporters who worked to secure recognition for Margaret Sinclair, a Poor Clare nun who died in 1925 and has been beatified.

A Requiem Mass was held in Our Lady of the Waves on Friday, May 18, followed by interment at the Deerpark Cemetery, Dunbar.