Ex-hotel boss Ian Birrell

Ian Birrell
Ian Birrell

A memorial service is being held on Friday at 2.30 p.m. in Anstruther’s Craw’s Nest Hotel to celebrate the life of one of its former managers and proprietors.

Ian Birrell, of Cellardyke, died last Tuesday after a five-year fight against the degenerative brain disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

Following Mr Birrell’s diagnosis, his wife Elizabeth and other relatives and friends dedicated much of their time to staging fundraising events for the PSP Association charity and raising awareness of the illness, which has no cure.

Mr Birrell, who was 71, donated his brain and spinal cord for further research into the condition.

And two more fundraising events, arranged before his passing, are due to go ahead as planned, as his family felt it would have been his wish.

Mr Birrell, whose father was from Cellardyke, was born in Danbury in Essex but regularly visited the East Neuk as a youngster, during recuperation from an illness.

He met the then Elizabeth Clarke at her father Eddie’s former cafe in Shore Street, Anstruther, and Mr Clarke invited him to assist at the Craw’s Nest Hotel around 1967.

Ian and Elizabeth were married the following year and their association with the hotel continued until their retiral in 2000.

Mr Birrell, pictured, was twice president of Anstruther Rotary Club and also prominently involved with the Licensed Trade Association.

Known as ‘Cuddles’ to his friends – a name he also gave to people he knew – Mr Birrell deeply appreciated the support from those who helped him and the PSP charity after his diagnosis.

He was often to be seen at either end of the Coastal Path, presenting medals to participants in sponsored walks and similar events.

Sister-in-law Eleanor Bowman said: “He was such a well-liked chap. He really was.”

A PSP fund-raising performance at the Craw’s Nest Hotel by Penman’s Jazzmen is going ahead on Sunday, followed on October 22 by a coffee morning in Pittenweem Town Hall. As well as Elizabeth, Mr Birrell is survived by his daughter Liza and son Ian.