Death of well-known Letham campaigner

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THE village of Letham lost one of its sons last week with the death of a long-serving member of the community council and rights of way campaigner.

James (Jim) Cosgrove, who was in his 99th year, was well known in the area for his love of the great outdoors, and his hard work in clearing the rights of way surrounding the village.

He passed away peacefully at Benholm Care Home last week and his funeral took place at Parkgrove Crematorium yesterday (Tuesday).

Born in Dundee, Jim was educated in the city at Glebelands and Stobswell schools before embarking on a career in hairdressing.

He served his apprenticeship in Dundee before opening his own salon at 15 Princes Street. During the war he served in the fire service in Dundee.

Jim went on to open his second salon at 98 Castle Street in Forfar in the early 1960s before opening another salon adjacent to his home at Gardyne Street in Letham, where he lived with his second wife, Janet.

His son, Colin, joined Jim in the family business, starting his apprenticeship in 1959 and working with his father for ten years.

Although long retired, Jim continued cutting hair at his home in Letham when friends would visit him - even although he was in his 90’s.

He was admitted to Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre last January and in April moved to Benholm where he celebrated his 98th birthday on January 17 this year.

Although Jim threw himself into village life, his real passion was the mountains.

He was a director of the Mountain Bothies Association and the Scottish Rights of Way Society.

His son Colin said: “He was a keen hillwalker and loved the outdoors. He was passionate about that from an early age. As a young boy his first boss bought him a bike and he cycled to Skye from Dundee as a teenager.

“There was a film made about him by the Munro Society. First and foremost he was a hillwalker but he did rock climbing.

“In the first set of Munro tables he is number 56 for completing the first 100 Munros. He first completed all the Munros in 1963 and secondly in 1972/3.”

He was also passionate about getting people out onto the hills and was not unknown to erect signs to help walkers on their way.

He was a regular sight as he travelled in his old Land Rover, putting up signs.

He was also instrumental in tidying up the six miles of pathways around Letham, clearing them with a scythe, one step at a time, as he was out walking his dog.

The paths had been overgrown for years and Jim took it upon himself to start clearing them.

The local community council became involved and began fund-raising and by the end they had purchased ride-on mowers and petrol strimmers which were used by a whole work party.

Jim’s work was recognised when he was named Letham Citizen of the Year by the community council and he was presented with the Jim Cosgrove Award, an award which continues to this day.

Jim was also a talented musician and played violin and viola. He played with the Tayside Symphony Orchestra and for amateur musical productions in Arbroath and Montrose up to when he was in his mid-80s.

He is survived by his son Colin, daughter Jenni, four grand-children and six great grand-children.

Paying tribute to Jim, Angus Councillor David Lumgair praised the work he did for the village.

He said: “He was chairman of Letham Community Council and was a stickler for time.

“If it was a 7.30 start, the meeting would start bang on 7.30.

“He was also a stickler for detail. He was a very, very good chairman of Letham Community Council. I served on the community council during his spell as chairman.

“As well as his work on the paths around Letham he did a great deal of work for the community.

“He was also a staunch member of Letham Church and his name lives on in the James Cosgrove Award.”