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Sadness as former council stalwart Ron Shepherd passes away

By Alan Beresford

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TRIBUTES have been pouring in for a dedicated servant of the Cullen community.

Former Keith-Cullen councillor Ron Shepherd, who passed away earlier today. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Former Keith-Cullen councillor Ron Shepherd, who passed away earlier today. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

He represented the area the town council and unitary authority eras and, along with wife Dorothy, was a well-known stalwart of community events for decades.

Ron and Dorothy had celebrated their diamond wedding last December, aged 82 and 81 respectively.

His contributions over a period spanning decades were hailed by Moray Council convener Councillor Shona Morrison and council leader Councillor Graham Leadbitter.

“I was so sorry to hear of Ron’s passing," said Councillor Morrison.

"My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time

“Ron was a true community champion and a stalwart of Moray Council for many, many years.

"Throughout his time as a councillor he diligently raised the issues that affected the communities he represented.

“He will be terribly missed.”

Councillor Leadbitter said: “Ron served his community as a councillor for many years and was well known throughout Moray and Grampian, especially through his work in Licensing and on the Grampian Valuation Joint Board.

“I have already received numerous messages from people who worked with him and recalled his commitment to public service, his sense of humour and how much of a gentleman he was.

“These reflections are also very much my own experience of Ron during over 10 years on Moray Council with him up to his retirement. He will be very sadly missed by many people.”

Fellow ward councillors Laura Powell, Theresa Coull and Donald Gatt praised Ron's contributions

Councillor Powell, who succeeded Ron as one of the ward's elected members, said: "Ron was a great ambassador for the people of Cullen, and the wider Keith and Cullen ward, over many years and will be very sadly missed by the local community.

"Condolences to Dorothy and the family at this very difficult time."

Councillor Coull said: "I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Ron and my thoughts are with Dorothy and all the family at this sad time.

Ron served Ward 2, Keith-Cullen for many years as their local councillor and was respected by all. Ron was very sociable, he was a gentleman and was a pleasure to work with.

"He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."

Councillor Gatt commented: “It is sad news to learn of Ron’s passing.

"A great advocate for his local community, Ron was a fountain of knowledge of Cullen and the local area. Even after his retirement he would get in touch with me about something that the council needed to fix in the local area.

"An affable individual who put politeness above politics, he was always up for a chat and willing to impart his experiences. He’ll be much missed.

“My condolences to his wife Dorothy and all the family at this sad time.””

Close friend and fellow Independent councillor Gordon Cowie (Buckie) said he held Ron in the "highest esteem".

He continued: "Ron was a very close friend as well as a fellow councillor it was him that guided me on this path.

"All his knowledge and humour I held in the very highest esteem.

"We all speak about proper gentleman but Ron was one of the best and I can't stress that enough.

"RIP Ron I will sorely miss our meetings. My heart goes out to Dorothy and family."

In addition to his work as a councillor, Ron was praised by Cullen and Deskford Community Council chairman Stewart Black for his massive contribution to the wider community.

Speaking on behalf of the group, he said: "Cullen and Deskford Community Council were saddened to hear of Ron's passing.

"He was a great servant and a huge help to his community during his time as the local councillor. His advice, guidance and assistance were greatly appreciated by all on the present and previous committees. Our thoughts are with Dorothy and his family."

Moray MP Douglas Ross, who served as a Moray councillor from 2007 to 2016, had fond memories of Ron.

"This is very sad news. Ron was a tireless servant to his local community over many years.

"He was so proud of Cullen and always spoke up for the local area.

“He was very welcoming to me when I was first elected to the council in 2007. We worked closely together on the Grampian Joint Police Board and several other committees.

"He was an excellent colleague and always had a story to tell. He was always approachable and keen to help in any way he could.

"My thoughts are with Dorothy and his whole family at this difficult time."

Ron first of all served on Cullen Town Council, memorably defeating the sitting provost in his first election, a result which the civic worthy was "none too pleased about for some time after it".

With the advent of regionalisation in 1976 Ron left politics but was to return in 1999 when Moray Council was created as a unitary authority. He went on to become one of the longest serving members of the local authority, stepping down in 2019 as his health began to deteriorate.

It was a move he did not take lightly.

Speaking at the time, Ron said: "This was a very hard decision for me to make – this has been my life for so long, but my recent ill-health has forced me to reluctantly retire from the job I love."

During his long career with the council, Ron served as the chairman of the licensing board and was a member of the Grampian Valuation Board, Grampian Joint Police Board and Grampian Fire Board, the last particularly close to his heart due to his time spent, like his father before him, as a retained firefighter in Cullen.

He was a member of every post-1999 Moray Council administration until the SNP formed a minority administration in 2018.

Ron was also a Justice of the Peace for 23 years, which included presiding over Moray District Court.

Born in Boharm, in Mulben before moving to Kirkton as a young child Ron went on to hold a number of jobs from the age of 12, starting off delivering telegrams and milk.

It was 1959 at a dance in Macduff Town Hall he met local girl Dorothy and they went on to tie the knot on December 17, 1960 in Banff registrar's office.

The couple shared a mutual love of golf and were members of Cullen Golf Club

Ron is survived by Dorothy, their three children – Rona, Jill and Scott – seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

He is due to be laid to rest on Wednesday, April 14. Following a service at Cullen Auld Kirk the funeral cortege will head to Cullen and Deskford Cemetery via Three Kings Brae and Seafield Street at approximately 11.45am.

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