Andrew Kirk

Andrew R A Kirk
Class of 2006

By now, I feel that everyone has read, or at least heard of, the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis. When I think about “the dates on his casket from the beginning to the end” I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little cheated, and that the time for which we had Andrew was far too short. However, the words of the poem also bring comfort in the lines “for it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash, what matters is how we live and how we love and how we spend our dash.” 

If there ever was a poster boy for living life to the full, and making the most of his “dash”, it was Andrew. Although, at times he could be extremely laid back. As pointed out by our mum, “two weeks overdue, then shot out into the world within an hour.” Even from the day of his birth, he was never a believer in doing things by halves. 

I shall endeavour to keep this brief, mostly touching on highlights from Andrew’s time at the High School. Even with that in mind, I know that while brevity may be the soul of wit, it does not accurately reflect the soul of Andrew as there is no way to summarise a life, while short, packed so full.  

Being born in North Tyneside General Hospital would have a lasting impact on Andrew. My dad phoned one of his colleagues after Andrew was born, saying he was so proud to have a son who would be a potential captain of the Scotland rugby team in the future. His colleague’s response would be oddly prophetic, as she pointed out that he could also captain the England team. Unfortunately for our dad, Andrew’s blossoming rugby career did not last past secondary school, and despite his Scottish parentage, he always considered himself an Englishman. 

Luckily for Andrew, as well as rugby, attending the High School allowed him to pursue his interest in cricket, which strangely is not as popular in Scotland as it was south of the border, especially when we lived in Bristol. Must have something to do with the weather, although as a self-professed Geordie boy, Andrew didn’t seem to be bothered by the cold and would have been outdoors in all weathers, all seasons, all while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. 

A natural sportsman, Andrew seemed to excel at every sport to which he chose to turn his hand. Rugby was a first love and starting mini rugby at the West of Scotland was how Andrew got to know many of his friends, even before starting at the High School. In Fourth Year, he hung up his rugby boots in favour of a hockey stick. He started playing at Hillhead and continued to play hockey through school and university. Even after graduating and entering into the working world, his hockey skills landed him a place on the firm’s team, where he enjoyed a hockey tour to Barcelona. (I like to think he made the most of the Spanish learned from Señora McCorquodale, but I don’t remember learning how to order “dos cervezas” in Sixth  Year!) 

Another sport which allowed Andrew to explore the world was sailing. This was a shared family interest, with the two of us learning to sail together in dinghies at Bardowie, competing together in the Interschools Trophy and even sailing to Bénodet as part of the same race/cruise in company. 

As well as being a keen sportsman, Andrew was also an accomplished musician. Normally these two interests were able to coexist in harmony. That is, until an incident with his thumb and a cricket ball. The day before his Grade 5 guitar exam,Miss Gowans was less than impressed with this! Despite cricket and guitar not mixing well on this occasion, Andrew managed to have a good musical career at the school, playing with the guitar ensemble for school concerts, working towards his classical guitar exams, and eventually forming his own band with friends – “What’s All This?” I think their Sixth Year prom was perhaps the beginning and the end of the band’s brush with stardom, and a future as a rock and roll star was not the calling for Andrew. 

In spite of the fact that Mr Bennie told him he had a gift for languages, Andrew chose to pursue a degree in Mathematics, completing his first degree at St Andrews. It has always been a bit of a family joke that we are not sure how much studying actually went on, but he certainly made the most out of university life – joining the hockey team, getting involved in University Hall social events, and making friends for life who we still consider family. In their words, they knew “Kirky” for his whole adult life, and continue to know him as Kirky, despite him divulging his High School nickname to them in Freshers’ Week, as well as how much he didn’t like it. Most people would have chosen to keep this information secret, but that was Andrew – honest to a fault. I think it is down to the “St Andrew’s crew” that Andrew was kept on the straight and narrow. 

Perhaps disappointed with his degree classification, and perhaps just looking for his next adventure, Andrew graduated from St Andrews and chose to launch straight into another degree. This time, Accountancy at Glasgow University. Accountancy seemed to be the perfect fit for him – allowing him to use his aptitude for numbers coupled with his great interpersonal skills. Able to strike up a friendship with anyone, anywhere and at any time was always one of his strengths. To borrow from a tribute from a friend:  

“Everywhere you went you made friends. If there’s a small moment that epitomises this, it would be an occasion a few years ago when I was visiting Tommy in New Orleans, and we were out for a few drinks. We were reminiscing on old times, when out of the blue a couple of people nearby overheard the chat and said, “Wait – you know Kirky? From Scotland? We love that guy!” It turns out they were Tommy’s cousin’s friends who had met you a couple of times on one of your own visits some years earlier, and had never forgotten you.” 

I love this story as it perfectly encapsulates all his best qualities in one anecdote.  

Due to the ever-fluid nature of the industry, and Andrew’s eternal “Carpe Diem” attitude, if you can name an accountancy firm, chances are he has worked for them!It was during his time at Johnstone Carmichael in Glasgow that he met Emma, who would later become his wife. Coincidentally, they had both been in Aberdeen at the same time, undertaking the same chartered accountancy exams, albeit through different firms. It was not until they both began working for the same firm in Glasgow that their paths crossed. According to Andrew, Emma was seen as “a bit scary” around the office, but he really liked her. We later found out that their first encounter had involved her having to give him a ticking off – this sums Andrew up rather well – a menace, but a loveable menace! 

During their relationship, Andrew and Emma shared many adventures all over the world, from kayaking in fjords, to markets in Thailand, to Munro bagging in Scotland. This love of hillwalking was ignited by Andrew’s godmother, who had taken him up his first mountain (Ben Lomond) at age six.  

Sadly, the hills were to be Andrew’s last adventure, as he set out one morning last January to climb Ben More. A seasoned hillwalker by this point, he set out with all the appropriate gear and precautions in place for a solo walk. In true Andrew form, he did not end up walking alone as he had struck up conversation with a fellow walker (and her dog) at the start of the walk and continued to the summit with his new friend.  

Tragically, Andrew had a fall and was fatally injured. His walking companion called the mountain rescue, who arrived on the scene promptly as they were in the area on a training exercise. Every attempt was made to save Andrew but unfortunately, his injuries were too severe, and he did not survive.  

Through this entire experience and beyond, the whole family have been extremely grateful to all emergency services involved, and especially indebted to the Killin Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT). It is absolutely humbling that these people volunteer to do such difficult and emotional work in their own spare time. Even in the midst of our own grief, it is humbling to think of the work put in by the team, both as individuals and collectively, to bring Andrew back to us. Although not the outcome we would have ever wished for nor expected, I feel eternally grateful to the KMRT and all their work.  

In the weeks following, we had set up a JustGiving page. We would have been pleased had the page made it into four figures, but to date the campaign has raised over £23,000 thanks to fundraising efforts and (unfathomable) generosity from family, friends, colleagues, and many other people whose lives Andrew has touched in some way. In my last conversation with the KMRT coordinator, the plan was for them to use the funds for a more powerful radio transmitter/receiver that would allow better radio coverage on exercises and rescues.  

Despite the tragedy of the situation, I still consider us to be lucky – that Andrew’s final moments were doing something he enjoyed; that in spite of the outcome, he had a team of strangers willing to do everything to help him; that there were so many lives touched by Andrew’s presence and that although we now face his absence, we have had the privilege of having Andrew in our lives for the time we did. For someone with a comparatively short “dash”, it is amazing how much he managed to fit into it. For those of you who remember Andrew, I hope that it is not with sadness, but with a smile. And whether you had the privilege of knowing my brother or not, it is my hope that you take inspiration from him and seize every opportunity for adventure in your life.  

Tribute written by Andrew’s sister, Jennifer Kirk (Class of 2004) 

If you would like to make a donation to Killin Mountain Rescue Team in Andrew’s memory, you can do so by visiting the family’s JustGiving page here: