The sudden death of Ian Seeley on September 3 while returning from a much-enjoyed holiday with his family in France has come as a great shock to his many friends in the town.
Ian was born in St Andrews on December 22, 1942, one of seven children.
Following his education at Madras College, St Andrews, he began his musical studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow, before transferring to the Trinity College of Music in London where he qualified LTCL in 1964. Having completed his teacher training at Dundee College of Education, he started his teaching career at Inverness Royal Academy where he met Alison, a PE teacher at the school, whom he married in Inverness Parish Church in September 1966.
After his marriage, he moved to Orkney where he took up the post of principal teacher of music at Kirkwall Grammar School, and it was in Kirkwall that his son David was born. He then moved to a similar post at Lockerbie Academy in 1968.
Shortly after their second child, Melanie, was born in 1970, Ian arrived in Hawick to lead the music department at the high school, a position he was to hold with great success until he retired in 1997.
At Hawick High School, Ian fostered in many a young pupil a love of music in all its different aspects and no doubt he will be remembered by many former pupils with the greatest of affection. Few will forget the memorable Gilbert and Sullivan productions that he staged in the town hall in the late 1970s and early 80s. Audiences were thrilled by the superb performance of the high school pupils when the exacting standards demanded by Ian paid rich dividends.
It was the same at Christmas when under Ian’s direction the school held the annual festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which filled the Old Parish church.
If his work at the high school was worthy of great acclaim, what can one say of his contribution to life in the town in which he settled and made his home for more than 40 years.
He was a life member of the Callants Club, 1514 Club and Archaeological Society. He was also a Mosstrooper and became Mosstrooper of the year in 2008. He was a great servant to the music club and the operatic society, and he was for many years the organist and choir master at Trinity church. He was also a Rotarian and in 1998 he became president of the Hawick club.
His contribution to Hawick Common Riding was immeasurable and he will prove difficult to replace, for he had become something of an institution in the celebrations.
While other people enjoyed collecting stamps or rare books, Ian had a great propensity for acquiring educational qualifications. In addition to his original degree, he went on to add over the years: B Mus (1973), ARCM (1978), LRAM (1979), M.Ed (1982) and MA (1991).
His other great passion was corresponding with the press. Most newspapers in Scotland at one time or another were either given the benefit of his considered opinion on some important topic, or else were taken to task for offending his sense of right and wrong. He was teased a great deal for this by his friends, but would not be deflected from his crusade for accurate reporting.
Ian was a highly intelligent, greatly talented individual who always set himself the highest of standards. He did not suffer fools gladly but conversely was generous in the assistance he gave to anyone who asked.
His intellectual qualities were reflected in the many songs and poems he had published. He was the author of On with the Show– celebrating 100 years of Hawick Operatic Society, which was published in 2010, and he had just completed his latest book, The Songs of Teviotdale, which involved a huge amount of diligent research. It is rather poignant that he died the day before the book was due to be launched under the auspices of the Archaeological Society and Hawick Sings.
Ian is survived by his much-loved and loving wife Alison, his son David, daughter Melanie and three grandchildren Niall, Mared and Wil. He will be sorely missed not only by his family but by his many friends. – GA