Alistair celebrates 90th birthday in style

Alistair Smith celebrates with wife Edna and daughters Diane and Sally.
Alistair Smith celebrates with wife Edna and daughters Diane and Sally.

An Auchnagatt man’s recent 90th birthday celebrations included messages from colleagues and friends across the globe.

Alistair Smith was born in a police station in New Elgin where his father, Sgt. James Smith, worked and the family lived.

His own Police career began in 1948 shortly after returning from National Service in Egypt and Palestine.

Promotions led him to the CID, the Identification Bureau, Director of Criminal Studies at Tulliallen, the Scottish Police College and latterly as Deputy Comandant of the college.

He received the Queen’s Police Medal for services to forensic science and to police training.

After retiring from the Police, a post as a ‘visiting professor’ came from South Carolina University, and Alistair returned home when each term ended in May, to the small Buchan village of Auchnagatt.

An authority on the ‘Sandwich Tern’ on Forvie Sands, Alistair received a Churchill Fellowship Award and a medal, which was presented by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, for his research into Terns in Africa and in the UK.

Indeed, the local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, where he worshiped, were surprised when he arrived for services one Sunday accompanied by an African chief dressed in full regalia!

At the age of 72, Alistair became the Bishop of the Mintlaw branch of the church.

He had held many senior positions since becoming a member in 1955 with his wife Edna.

He said: “Overseeing the building of a chapel meeting house on Newlands Road, Mintlaw, was very important to me and to our congregation who had been meeting in schools and halls for 40 years.

“It’s a beautiful building.”

Alistair and Edna, who have been married for 66 years, have five children, 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

They were joined at the special birthday celebration by daughters Diane and Sally who had flown in from Canada and the US.

Edna sang to Alistair, there was a quiz about the decades Alistair had lived through, messages from friends were read out, a video of his life was played and there was even a song specially written for the occasion.

Bishop Richard Longley of the Buchan ward presented a book full of photos and birthday messages then, after a loud chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ there was time to chat and reminisce with friends who had travelled from around Aberdeenshire for the occasion.