John Willie Campbell, the voice of shinty

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The world of shinty has lost one of its great characters with the passing last week of John Willie Campbell at the age of 84.

He was a Skyeman, former president of the Camanachd Association, science teacher, broadcaster and Gàidheal.

John Willie provided results for BBC Scotland, BBC Highland and Gaelic radio and television throughout that time, as well as writing for a wide range of newspapers.

Current Camanachd Association president, Keith Loades, said: ‘John Willie Campbell was one of the most significant figures in shinty in the 20th century. He served the game in every capacity from his boyhood as a player in Skye, through university to the full range of administrative duties and responsibilities imaginable.

‘Within the game he will be remembered as a distinguished president who navigated some quite stormy waters in the 1980s, introduced new structures and competitions and faced many challenges with a calm and dignified manner throughout. He would never have been happier than the day Skye Camanachd won the Camanachd cup in 1990.

‘The Camanachd Association and shinty in general will be forever in his debt and his passing marks the end of an era and a contribution to our sport and heritage which is unlikely to be matched.’

John Willie had a favourite tale he enjoyed telling, which may well be true. He was once missing a score for his broadcast and the deadline loomed. He phoned a shinty player to check the result and spoke to his mother. He was told she didn’t have the score, but the woman added: ‘But if you listen to the radio at half past five, John Willie will have them all.’