Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stewart Wilson - Remembered

Stewart Wilson with his paintings in the Fair Isle Kirk minutes after performing a wedding. April 2008

Rev. Stewart Wilson - Fair Isle resident & descended
Artist & Leader of the Kirk - Church of Scotland
Stewart left us this morning with his children at his side. 

In Heaven we hope he finds everything he has prayed for. God Bless.

1934 - 2011

I'm adding to this post the story I wrote for the Fair Isle Times Newspaper and a link to Stewarts Obituary.

The week that was… sad                                    by Tommy H. Hyndman - Feb. 13th - 18th

Everything seems trivial this week the raging gale and the storm that wouldn’t quit. Planes cancelled, no Good Shepherd? Delayed till the weekend? Provisions flown in-- bread, milk, fruit & veg in a weather window to restock the isle. Rare birds seem all pale to the news that Stewart Wilson couldn’t make it to church on Sunday, at least in his physical form. As you know, Stewart passed on Sunday morning. We wish him God’s speed on his way and hope that he find Heaven is everything he has prayed for.

Stewart was fond of his stories and often recanted his first memory of life. At the age of two or three his family was in a yoal rowed out to sea off the coast of Fair Isle. Stewart was held up and out over the water by his father with the lifting swell he was grabbed, tossed or catapulted by or to another family member or complete stranger already on board a passing ship, presumably on it’s way to Orkney. Yes, sometimes Stewart had a sense of the dramatic, but what ever your take on his story… it would have been very dramatic for a young child. A few years ago, I boarded a Cruise ship in a similar fashion from a Zodiac… all of those who went, no one denies the drama or shrinks the waves or the height of the swell.

A “swell” job well done by Stewart’s children and islanders in the caring for Stewart in his last few days and months. Steven, Serena & Stewart are to be commended for their advanced planning when faced with organization of such emotional realities. As are Elena the Island Nurse (& Declan) plus the home help care givers Dave Jose & Liz for all they have done.

On Monday the wind, sea and ocean raged as rare white winged gulls played a game of find and seek among the breaking waves.
Tuesday 5 rare Bewick's Swans grace the Kirk.

On Tuesday, Thomas came to live with us at the Auld Haa. Thomas is Stewart’s cat. It is common knowledge that I don’t really like cats, but I have always liked this one as the exception to the rule. Stewart had asked Liz to take care of Thomas when he was gone and how can one refuse? Thomas quickly found his new favourite spot in the house to sleep and lay about all day… my side of the bed.

On Wednesday at 1:30 pm most of the Island’s men met at the Fair Isle Cemetery to hand dig the grave. The sea was in toil, wind, rain, sleet and hail wasn’t helping matters. The sod was cut and rolled off a layer of more rocks and dirt. We all took turns with picks and shovels. About a foot down the rocks stop and we just had to deal with the sticky wet soil. Very few remains of previous relations were found. At the bottom was a layer of sandy clay that kept the water from sinking and the bottom was soon mud. We persevered.

Stewart died at home in bed with his children at his side on the island he loved in sight of his beloved Kirk. Most everyone had a chance to personally say goodbye or stop by to say hello before the go. So hopefully there are very few regrets among the Isle and a most positive send off could be shared and celebrated.

On Thursday Stewart’s body and spirit was in his beloved Kirk for the last time. The plane full of Family friends and flowers made it in for the ceramoneies. A simple but moving Mass was held at the Kirk, Church of Scotland. Followed by the Fair Isle traditional of carrying the coffin on oars or poles with the men taking turns bearing the load. The precession ended in the Kirki Geo Cemetery at grave side were as the coffin is laid to rest. The view from the final resting place is spectacular even in the foul grey weather. I Spotted a Spectacul male Goldeneye in full plumage top the low cliff by the cemitaetery walking home, another rare bird for Fair Isle and a confrimed Island tick for me. (thank you Stewart!) A wake is hosted by Serena & Steven at Aesterhoull and many stories told among the community gathering were encouraged in way of a respectful dram or two.

On Friday we all still remember, remember we need to move on in life and in death but we do not need to forget a life or even a week that was…

Link to obituary:


  1. Stewart really looked like he loved life. What a pleasant looking fellow. This is truly a life to celebrate.

  2. I heard one of his sermons and talked to him once. He was a really memorable man, who will live on in memory.

    All the best to his family.

    - Alinda Helleman

  3. At this time of deep sorrow, my sincere
    condolences to the family and friends of Rev.Stewart Wilson.
    His memory will live on through his wonderful
    With sympathy,
    Karen Burkimsher (Stout) and family

  4. I am so sorry to hear this. I met Stuart a few times on my visits to Fair Isle. The last time I saw him was last June - see my diary on my blog and my visit to Stuart's house and his wonderful cat Thomas on: He always seemed to be the life and soul, such a contented, happy man.
    Condolences to his family and friends - Penny Clarke

  5. I was so sad to hear about Stewart. Of course I knew he was terminally ill, but I had hoped to meet him again next summer and hear one more sermon, so full of love and positiveness. I'll miss him, but I'm glad I knew him.
    Condolences to his friends and relatives.
    Annelies Helleman

  6. I think the 5 Angels of the North arriving on Da Water were a clear sign that Stuarts soul is in a happy place.

    May your soul rest in peace Stuart and travel through this beautiful world and those that lay beyond which only birds see!

    My massive condolences to Steven and family and the Island Community