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01 February, 2012

Oran Campbell
Oran Campbell
A quietly inspirational Christian. A man committed to conflict resolution. A skilled architect and acknowledged conservationist. A fearless rock-climber and danger-loving, west-coast sailor. A keen tractor driver yet also Jaguar driver. A piper. A reel-dancer extraordinaire. A story-teller, mimic and wit.

Born in Glasgow in December 1941, Oran’s parents, Keir Campbell and Olivia Noel Paton, had helped Kurt Hahn to establish Gordonstoun School. A thoughtful, modest, gentle and principled man, Oran lived by its founding principle, Plus est en vous. He developed determination—but always for ethical, logical and considered reasons and his professional relations became built on trust.

He apparently, as a toddler, climbed to the top of three-storey external fire escapes and scrambled along second-storey windowsills, developing a joy and exhilaration in this sense of fearlessness. This later manifested itself in rock-climbing, Jaguar driving, and in adventurous, single-handed sailing.

Qualified at Edinburgh College of Art, Oran was a skilled draughtsman, drawing by hand rather than by computer. His work was varied. For a time he was with the Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments, having charge of East Anglia and then South-East England. His lifelong interest in marine architecture—described by his brother as ‘one of his dreams in life’—ensured the saving of significant aspects of Chatham and Portsmouth dockyards.

More recently, his work included multi-million pound Crown Estate conversions in Mayfair, a plan for future work at Syon Park and building both in Scotland and as far afield as Spain and the Middle East.

Oran Campbell and Belinda
Oran Campbell and Belinda
A dedicated conservationist, he gave acknowledged service to many organisations. Too many to list, these include the Royal Archaeological Society, the Society for Nautical Research, the Institute for Historic Buildings, the International Commission on Monuments and Sites and the Architectural Heritage Society. He also served for 25 years on the executive committee of the Georgian Group. He instigated the first research restorations of historic landscapes on state properties, a project of immense appeal and pride to his landscape architect brother, Diarmid.

But Oran was above all else a loving family man, marrying Cherry Thomas-Ferrand in 1974, and blessed by three loving and talented children: Catriona, Kirstie and Crinan. A piper when young, he shared a passion for reels and country-dances with his immediate and extended family. Love of hearth and home meant an ever-open door appreciated by friends, whilst love of Argyll ensured service to the Argyllshire Gathering to maintain and renovate the Halls of Oban where the Annual Balls are held.

Abiding memories of this man of faith I was so privileged to count a friend? His respect for his fellow man. Adherence to the principles of the Oxford Group, now known as Initiatives of Change. Adherence to traditional family values. Capacity to recite vernacular renditions of Scots poems. Generosity of spirit, intellect and time. Capacity to offer advice or criticism with love and affection. Capacity to laugh and weep with his friends.

So, whilst we who said too early a farewell to this understated hero may have wept, we wept with joy and pride in a life lived fully, in the best of Scotland personified, in a family at ease with itself and its friends.

His legacy? Standards and a lifestyle we should strive in humility to follow.

Ann Packard

This obituary was first published in The Scotsman, 5 November 2004.

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