Tributes paid to John Beck, chairman of Friends of Kirkcaldy High

John  Beck, chairman, Friends of Kirkcaldy High School
John Beck, chairman, Friends of Kirkcaldy High School

The chairman of the Friends of Kirkcaldy High School, and author of an important book about the school’s lost generation from the Great War, has died in Epsom, Surrey, age 72.

John Beck was born in 1946, first child of a Polish serviceman stationed in Fife and his new wife from Cupar.

John attended Castlehill Primary, then Dunnikier where he was Dux before moving on to Kirkcaldy High School in 1957.

It was at the end of his first year that John assisted with the flit to the brand new premises on Dunnikier Way and he always reckoned, by dint of the register being taken alphabetically, that he was the fourth young person to enter the new building! John loved his school and maintained a particularly strong allegiance to KHS throughout his life.

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He had wanted to enter teaching, but his family circumstances were not favourable, and John headed south to join the Metropolitan Police age 17, quickly progressing to become a detective specialising in security

operations.

John subsequently had two children by his first wife Sonia and the family enjoyed a three year posting to Prestwick Airport, returning south before a separation. He met and later married his second wife, Diana, in 1978, after meeting through work connections at Gatwick Airport.

It was on John’s retirement from the Met that he began his long association with the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) and the Friends of Kirkcaldy High School (FOKHS), becoming respectively secretary and chairman of these bodies.

His other great interest was gardening and he became chairman of the local horticultural society. He also fulfilled his early ambition of entering higher education by completing a law degree through the Open University.

John’s legacy to his old school is a deep affinity and a remarkable sense of loyalty, which has resulted in his very important contribution to the history of Kirkcaldy High School.

Published in time to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, “The Memorial in the School” is a remarkable record of the short lives and tragic deaths of the 105 pupils and three teachers who fell in the war.

These terse biographies, largely compiled from reports in the Fife Free Press and school archives, are an important tribute to the brave young men of the town, and also a poignant reminder of the futility of war.

Kirkcaldy High School Rector, Derek Allan, described John as “Kirkcaldy High School through and through” despite his long absence from the town.

“John was devoted to this school and travelled to Kirkcaldy four or fivetimes a year to be part of FOKHS, and latterly to be its very active

Chairman”, he added. He continued; “I am grateful for John’s friendship, and as a school, we thank him for his support and in particular, his book. I understand that he had begun a similar project on the KHS losses from World War Two, and we are looking at ways to ensure that this comes to fruition. Our thoughts are with Diana and all of his family.”
John is survived by his wife Diana and his children Duncan and Sarah.