‘In the corridors of eternity, he will be entertaining the angels' – that was the moving tribute paid to a well-known Largs man described simply as ‘a larger than life character'.
    During a packed funeral service at St. Columba's Parish Church, it was said that Fairlie McGill, 67, would be remembered fondly for his achievements as a fire officer, RNLI member, Scouting Assistant District Commissioner, church elder, thespian and Burnsian.
    In fact, so noted was he in the Burns domain for his spirited recitals of ‘Tam O'Shanter' and his role as Secretary with the Largs Cronies Club, that fellow Largs man Joe McGinty sang a rendition of Burns' ‘Ae Fond Kiss' in tribute at the service last Wednesday, 5th September.
    A “born story teller”, it was said that Fairlie “could give anything a humorous spin” before he tragically lost his battle with cancer.
    Born James Fairlie McGill on 29 th September 1940, but known to one and all as Fairlie, he had been marked out as a child by his distinctive knee calliper and kilt, for which, the Rev. Roderick Grahame stated, Fairlie had received a “ribbing and bullying from fellow pupils”.
    Nevertheless, he was determined to help others and upon applying to join the Fire Brigade had remained convinced that he would not be passed fit.
    Fortunately, however, the doctor who carried out the medical was a “dithering old devil” and did not even check Fairlie's knees.
    Come 1989, Fairlie had served 30 years in the fire service.
    While growing up in Glasgow as the only child of Harry and May, on weekends and school holidays Fairlie would visit his grandparents who ran a boarding house in Largs.
    It was to be the start of a long connection with the town that would eventually see him marry Marelle Wilson at St. Columba's Parish Church in 1968 before raising son Gordon.
    Fairlie would go on to serve 15 years in the local RNLI with whom “160 lives were saved as a result” and enjoy a more leisurely time on the Clyde with Largs Sailing Club.
    He also joined Largs Players and Largs Amateur Operatic Society, and with the latter played many substantial roles including Tevye in ‘Fiddler on the Roof' and Jud Fry in ‘ Oklahoma!'.
    However, Fairlie also recalled with fondness his time with the Greenock Players with whom he had once been encased inside a giant bear costume which was described as “something akin to a doughnut” in a pantomime.
    His love for the wider local area was also strong with him enjoying some 30 holidays on Arran with his beloved dogs.
    However, a global trip of a lifetime in 2005 became a little more problematic when every time he and Marelle passed through airport security, his knee “bleeped”.
    Finally, when they arrived at the United Nations building in New York, and the detector failed to go off, Fairlie said to the security guard, “Here son, your machine is no' working today”.
    Despite battling cancer, due to Fairlie's “strength of character” he had still attended the baptism of his grandson. Before passing away, he had stated that he “did not want any tears or snotters” when he was gone.
    The Rev. Grahame said “Fairlie has given his last performance, but in the corridors of eternity he is entertaining the angels with his jokes and reciting ‘Tam O'Shanter' to God himself”.


With acknowledgements to the'Largs & Millport Weekly News'

Fairlie will continue to 'entertain the angels'