PEEBLES is mourning the loss of one of its most colourful characters, following the death of Daniel T Ward, writes Kenny Paterson.
The talented musician, teacher, soldier, artist and Peebles RFC stalwart passed away peacefully in Borders General Hospital on Christmas Day at the age of 74.
Peebles RFC president Gordon Brown led the tributes to Daniel, better known as Dan, in particular his contribution at the Gytes club.
He said: “During his playing days he was a front row forward with aspirations to be in the back row and had a dummy which made those on the wrong end of it feel foolish and wondering why they hadn’t caught it.
“Unfortunately, as he often related himself, he didn’t quite have the pace to make use of it and was often caught by the guy he had sold the dummy to in the first place.
“But Dan found his niche in the club when he and Roger Pirnie began coaching the mini section, both through the club and the school, after his transfer from Walkerburn Primary to Kingsland in 1973.
“He went on to coach the colts along with Bill Noble, but his legacy to the club is with the number of primary school youngsters he introduced to the game and the skills, discipline and enthusiasm he passed on to them.
“His contribution to the club in this respect was enormous and for that we will be forever grateful.”
Dan also spent many hours playing and tutoring with the town’s burgh silver band, having learned brass instrumentation at The Military School of Music while serving with the Royal Scots, to build on his expertise as a reed player.
Cliff Balson, secretary of Peebles Burgh Silver Band, said: “He served the band in just about every role possible, from cornet to trombone, being a versatile player and accomplished musician.
“He was bandmaster/conductor of the band for a couple of periods and once took the band to the Edinburgh Charities Contest.
“His teaching skills added to his musical ability and meant that he was almost always going to become a tutor.
“He filled this role for many years and is responsible for countless kids learning brass and reed instruments, and music, for the first time in their lives.
“This is a grounding that has led many to pursue this hobby for a lifetime and in some cases a career.
“For the past couple of decades he played a major role in the one-to-one tuition of the PBSB youngsters and was conductor of the junior band for the majority of this time.
“This was a largely unsung but major contribution to the on-going development of the band.”
Cliff added: “His abiding legacy to the silver band and wider world of music is his tuition of youngsters for more than 50 years right up until his untimely departure from our lives.
“There are countless musicians who can quote Daniel T Ward as their inspiration to take up and continue a love of various styles of music.”
But Dan’s musicial interest did not stop at the doors of his beloved silver band.
Gordon said: “As well as being a regular band member for several of the Borders operatic societies, Dan was a member of the Borders Big Band.
“He was also a founder member and the driving force behind the success of the Peebles Jazz Festival, as well as the Peebles Concert Band, which he built from nothing to a 20-piece band for woodwind and brass, which perform up to three concerts per year.
“Apart from playing in the band every Beltane, Dan, putting his army training to good use, coached the sailors for the Beltane Saturday each year, teaching them the drills which they performed smartly on the day to add to the spectacle that is the crowning ceremony, the highlight of the festival.
“Dan was also bestowed the honour of being the Warden of Neidpath in 1998, an honour he was exceptionally proud of.”
Gordon described Dan, a husband to the late Cissy, dad to Dennis and Lisa, and grandfather and great-grandfather, as a character who he never saw wear the same tie twice.
The president said he loved a sing-song and retelling his many anecdotes in Peebles RFC’s clubrooms.
A requiem mass will be held for Daniel T Ward tomorrow at 10am in St Joseph’s Church, Peebles, thereafter to Peebles Cemetery.