JAMES McLoughlin was a kenspeckle figure in East Lothian for many years.

His talents and skills as a painter and decorator brightened many a home in this part of Scotland but he is probably better remembered as an industrious and often fearless window cleaner who ran his own business.

Working at heights held no terrors for him, and he knew how to proceed standing on the windowsills at Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar, as well as on many another lofty edifice.

He was born on Bridge Street, Nungate, Haddington, on December 2, 1935, and had two younger brothers.

James was a pupil at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Haddington and was an altar server at St Mary’s RC Church from the age of seven until he was 21.

I first encountered James more than half a century ago, and part of the reason for his success as a painter and decorator was, I believe, that he remembered so vividly the sheer awfulness of the 1948 Haddington flood.

His family home had been very badly affected, and they had to move to Princess Mary Road in the town.

How he must have wished then that all the spoilt buildings could have been properly redecorated and set to rights.

While he was serving his apprenticeship as a painter with the late Mr Sheerin, Her Majesty’s Government intervened and James was called up for National Service in 1955, serving for two years with the RAF.

His future wife Maude entered his life at a dance held at the Corn Exchange in Haddington, when James asked her to take to the floor with him.

They were members of the same church and were married on July 1, 1960.

Their son, Michael, was born a year later, and he was followed by three brothers: Desmond, Adrian and George.

James loved playing golf and was a member of Haddington Golf Club for over 50 years. He introduced his sons to the delights of golf, and he and Maude also enjoyed spending weekends away following the fortunes of their sons and their various football teams.

In his professional life, James was dedicated to building up his own painting and decorating business, as well as continuing with his window cleaning.

His work was so good and sought after, and the success of his business so considerable, that it enabled him and Maude to travel to such distant countries as China, New Zealand, India and the Falkland Islands.

He made many friends through his work in East Lothian and also on account of Maude’s work at Belhaven Hill School.

James had a heart attack, which resulted in him having to undergo a triple heart bypass operation 14 years ago.

Later, he started to write poetry, a pastime which he enjoyed. He also took great pleasure in the company of his seven grandchildren: three boys and four girls.

His was a life lived to the full, 85 years in all, in which the hard work and constant efforts put in were well balanced by the many enjoyments and satisfaction James derived from family life, as well as music, dancing, sport and, latterly, writing poetry.

By James Douglas-Hamilton

Lord Selkirk of Douglas