Tribute to Bill Kirkhope, Carluke

Bill Kirkhope from Carluke, former Councillor and chair of Clydesdale Housing Association, who died 28 March 2011
Bill Kirkhope from Carluke, former Councillor and chair of Clydesdale Housing Association, who died 28 March 2011

BILL Kirkhope, who died on March 28 at the age of 88 after being diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, was one of the most “weel kent” faces in Carluke.

Born in Carluke on January 23, 1923, Bill went to Kirkforest School in Yieldshields before attending Carluke Secondary where he was a model pupil who loved to learn.

Bill started an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer at 16 with Clyde Alloy Steel Co. Ltd in Motherwell, before joining the Army at 19 and completing his apprenticeship.

In the Army, Bill travelled to Egypt where he stayed for a number of years. He was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanic Engineers and stayed the majority of that time in Alexandria, reaching the rank of staff sergeant.

He left the Army in 1947 and met the love of his life, Betty, whom he married in 1949.

She was his wife for over 50 years before her death in 2000; he described her as ‘my one’.

Bill’s work as an electrical engineer took them all over the world together.

They were made a ‘King and Queen’ by a tribe in Sierra Leone where they lived for four years, spent seven years living in Cameroon, some time was also spent in Aden and over 10 years in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Bill and Betty never had any children but spent great times with their many nieces and nephews, sometimes joining them on their foreign travels.

Bill loved Scotland and upon his return in 1972, after finding employment as an electrical engineer, he started a life in politics, always supporting the Scottish National Party which reflected his passion for Scotland and his local community of Carluke.

Bill served two consecutive terms as district councillor for Carluke West in Lanark District Council between 1974 and 1980 before concentrating on organised voluntary work.

During his time as Clydesdale Housing Association chairman between 1996 to 1999, the group built 129 homes.

Its chief executive Joe Gorman said: “Bill made a key contribution to achieving Clydesdale’s success over the years.

“He always fought hard for new investment in the area and was a champion for tenant participation.”

Involved with several groups, Bill was Carluke Community Council chairman for 10 years and led the revival of the town’s Gala Day celebrations.

Councillor Eileen Logan, a community council member, said: “Bill was a well loved man.

“Always charming and helpful, he was well known in the town and a real friend to his colleagues.”

Bill was also a director of Carluke Development Trust, vice chair of the Association of Local Voluntary Organisation (ALVO) and secretary of Care & Repair in South Lanarkshire since 2003.

A remarkable man, Bill was given a social award from South Lanarkshire Council in 2008 and had a Carluke street named after him (Kirkhope Place, down Station Road).

A gentle soul who knew when and how to use his natural humour and charisma in any situation, Bill was also intensely clever and fully grasped technology and all its potentials. Many people were amazed that he had and could use an iPhone in his Eighties!

Bill will be missed by the many people he touched throughout his life and his legacy will be remembered too.