EAST Lothian’s Provost has led the tributes to a North Berwick stalwart who served as president of the town’s Highland games for nearly 30 years.

North Berwick Highland Games announced the death of John Starr, who served as president since 1996, last week.

Mr Starr played a pivotal role in launching the games and has been heavily involved in organising them ever since.

The games announced that this year’s event would not now go ahead, and that a parade in Mr Starr’s memory was being considered.

READ MORENorth Berwick Highland Games cancelled after death of John Starr

Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian’s Provost, regularly attended the North Berwick games and served as its chieftain twice.

He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of John Starr’s passing and would like to offer my condolences to his wife and family.

“John played a key role as a member of the North Berwick community for many years and contributed significant time and effort to local organisations.

“John and his committee did me the honour of asking me twice to be chieftain of North Berwick Highland Games and I saw first-hand how well-respected John was in the games and piping community.

“The games attracted many visitors to North Berwick and I was proud to take the salute with John.

“He was also well known in the veterans’ community for supporting friends and giving time to many individuals and good causes.

“I know that the committee’s decision to cancel this year’s event will have been a difficult one to make.”

East Lothian’s MSP Paul McLennan also paid his respects to Mr Starr.

He said: “I was very sad to hear about John’s death.

“He was a very kind man and, on the occasions I met him, it was clear he was well loved in North Berwick.”

Mr Starr was also a member of North Berwick Pipe Band, serving two terms as president.

Eddie Clark, secretary of the band, told the Courier: “A former piper with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, John Starr joined North Berwick Pipe Band in the late 1980s and was a stalwart member for the next three decades, playing regularly in the pipe corps and latterly leading the band as drum major.

“He also served two terms as the band’s president (2001-2005 and 2012-2015) with characteristic efficiency and energy, and the enthusiasm and dedication with which he established and ran North Berwick Highland Games will be missed by everyone involved locally in pipe band music.”

East Lothian Courier: John Starr as drum major for North Berwick Pipe Band during a performance in Germany in 2004John Starr as drum major for North Berwick Pipe Band during a performance in Germany in 2004

Mr Starr’s passing was announced in a statement by the games’ vice president, Peter Shaw, and shared via social media.

Mr Shaw said: “John was pivotal in starting the games in 1996 and had a deep passion for the Highland games, piping and the games events surrounding it.

“John also took great pride in being president and now past president of North Berwick Pipe Band and a whole host of other worthy causes in the community and beyond.

“We as a committee are now bereft of another key stalwart who worked tirelessly to ensure the games we held were a success – a truly sad loss to his family, the games, friends and to the community which he clearly loved to serve.

“As a direct result of John’s passing, the committee have taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel this year’s games. I can assure you all this was not an easy decision.

“We are looking at organising a street parade in honour of John; details will follow.”

Many passed on their condolences following Mr Starr’s death.

North Berwick Rugby Club said: “Sorry to hear this news, condolences from all at North Berwick Rugby.”

Haddington Pipe Band added: “Sincere condolences from Haddington Pipe Band.”

Kenny Miller, chair of North Berwick Community Council, said: “John Starr was a man whose contribution to the town has been remarkable, including a period on the community council.

“He will be most remembered for his extraordinary efforts in the Highland games, which he almost single-handedly organised, which was an incredible feat.

“It is a huge event in the town calendar, and its absence will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.”