The Highland Games director who modernised the Ballater Gathering

Edward Anderson, who has died aged 56 after an accident, was the long-time secretary of Ballater Highland Games.

He successfully steered the games through a quarter of a century.

His life was the games, and he revelled in arranging photocalls, welcoming distinguished visitors to the gathering, and being a constant presence on Monaltrie Park every second Thursday in August on Games day. Behind the scenes, he organised each games some 15 months in advance, attending to games business, and ensuring that the annual dinner every March proved the highly successful events it always is.

He did all this, yet flitted namelessly and quietly throughout. His character lay at odds with any form of publicity, for Edward, a quiet, reserved and essentially private man, eschewed any form of personal promotion. He so rarely posed for photographs, that a search for a picture to illustrate this obituary has proved fruitless.

Edward Charles Anderson was born on Royal Deeside and lived all his life there. He had early ambitions in banking, and worked with TSB Scotland at nearby Aboyne. The huge changes in banking in the late 1980s put him on a new course however, and he became a Ballater postman, reflecting: “The job pays me, keeps me healthy, and leaves me free early in the day for real work”. This last was his reference to his passion for local history.

Studious, and with an innate eye for attention to detail, he helped out behind the scenes at Ballater Games from an early age. His organising abilities came to the notice of older committee members, and while still in his 30s, he took on the mantle of secretaryship.

Heading his committee, he oversaw the organisation of sponsorship, competitors, pipe bands, car parking, spectator facilities and the Royal Guard from Balmoral, as well as ensuring that commentator Robbie Shepherd was an annual fixture. Everything always had to be right, down even to ensuring a dram for pipers and drummers of the three pipe bands on duty.

War years apart, Ballater Games has been an annual fixture on Deeside since 1864. But it was some 15 years ago that the event faced its greatest challenge. Demand for increasing safety measures and consequent rise in insurance premiums allied to a compensation culture brought about the need for the games organisation to be restructured into a limited company. For a small organising body like Ballater, it proved not simply a massive headache, but a hugely complex undertaking. With Edward’s quiet persistence, the changeover was successfully made in 1998.

A keen historian possessing recognition of the importance of blending past into the present, Mr Anderson recorded much of the local history of his part of Deeside, including the Deeside Railway and the Games itself. It is a matter of regret to all who knew him that his sudden demise through a fall at home has robbed him of the opportunity to greet Capt Alwyne Farquharson of Invercauld at the games next month (August) at what is Captain Farquharson’s 65th chieftainship of the Games.

The same sense of history persuaded Mr Anderson to pursue the idea of gaining a coat-of-arms for the games, and his researches were rewarded with a grant of arms in 1990. The games motto continues that once borne by the burgh of Ballater – Leal And Siccar.

His quest for heraldry was marked in 1990 by the ceremonial raising of a giant 7ft by 7ft banner of the arms over the gathering.

Mr Anderson was predeceased by his mother Ella, and is survived by his father, Eddie.