Tributes have been paid to a north-east school janitor who was “one in a million”.
Douglas Findlater, 50, worked at Westhill Academy as well as covering many other Aberdeenshire schools.
He was known as Doug or Dougie, and when his funeral cortege went through the streets of Westhill it was met with applause as the hearse as it made its way to Skene Cemetery.
Douglas grew up on a dairy farm and was the only son of Alexander and the late Mary until three years later he was joined by his sisters, twins Judith and Jill.
He attended Skene Primary School and Westhill Academy and started his working life with Stewart Milne as an apprentice joiner.
Douglas’ career path changed and it eventually led him back to his secondary school where he took a post as a janitor supervisor.
He died on May 4 following a heart attack and his funeral took place at Skene Cemetery on May 12, where he laid to rest next to his mother.
Judith Findlater said her brother had a “heart of gold” and was “well-respected” by his colleagues at work.
She said that away from work he enjoyed lawn bowls and had even taken home a few trophies.
Judith, 48, said: “I don’t know where to begin as he was such a genuine lovely person who we miss so dearly.
“Douglas enjoyed his job covering all the local Aberdeenshire schools he had a heart of gold and a patience of a saint helping others as best as he could.
“He was a keen bowler of the Kintore Outdoor Bowling Club and won various of trophies a hobby he enjoyed thoroughly and will be sadly missed by all players.”
Douglas’ funeral cortege went by the Westhill Primary School, Westhill Academy, Crombie Primary School and Elrick Primary School.
Reflecting his love of Celtic FC his hearse was covered in Celtic strips and scarves, alongside green and white floral wreaths in the shape of “number one son” and “number one bro.”
Due to current restrictions of people attending funerals, people lined the route to pay their respects to Douglas applauding the hearse and it drove by and Judith said the experience was “overwhelming” for the family.
She said: “It was overwhelming. If he had seen it he would have realised just how popular he was. He wouldn’t have believed it.
“He would’ve been shocked by it.
“Douglas was one in a million and all messages we received about him were really heart warming.”
His dad, Sandy Findlater, 79, said: “He was really marvellous to me, he just did everything for me. We just can’t believe it to be honest.”
Sandy was overwhelmed with the turnout for his son, and said: “I was speaking with one of his teachers and she said Westhill has never seen anything like it. Everybody has been so kind, I just can’t believe what they’ve done.”
And sister Jill Findlater, 48 said: “He would be gob smacked with the tributes. He didn’t think that he was that special. He would be overwhelmed with all the tributes.”
“He loved walking dogs around Westhill, he was an avid dog walker and enjoyed keeping himself fit.
“He loved playing football when he was younger and he was an avid Celtic supporter.”
“We were always playing when we were younger, we were always in the back garden.”
Douglas was also a keen darts player, and he even played a couple of rounds against professional, Ted Hankey, when he visited a local bar in Aberdeen.
Judith said: “He was quite chuffed because that was his favourite professional darts player of all time.”
A running joke was that Douglas was the spitting image of Hankey himself.
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Douglas has been described as a “well-liked, kind and generous” colleague by those who worked alongside him.
Nic Christie, support services co-ordinator for Aberdeenshire Council said, they plan on paying their own tribute to Douglas when the schools reopen.
He said: “Dougie had been ‘jannie’ at Westhill Academy for many years, but his connection went back even further: he had been a pupil at the school himself, and truly thought of it as his school.
“During the school’s 40th anniversary celebrations last year, Dougie proudly brought in a photo of himself as a pupil in school in the eighties, and this was added to our exhibition display, where many people recognised him.
“Over the years, Dougie quietly yet effectively took on the role of role model for a number of young people, gently encouraging and supporting them to do their best by taking them under his wing. In this way, he was as important to pupils as to his colleagues.
“Dougie was a well-known and loved member of the school community and indeed in Westhill, as evidenced by the large turnout for his funeral procession.
“Dougie will be missed, and we plan to find a suitable way to remember him when we all return to the academy.”