BADMINTONscotland today paid tribute to their former President, John Barrie MBE, who passed away yesterday aged 83.
Badminton played a major role throughout John’s life, even spending his retirement training and encouraging youngsters to take up the sport.
His passing comes just two weeks before the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 return to Scotland and it is a particular blow to badminton in Lanarkshire, where he was its long-time driving force.
Funeral details are now confirmed and will take place on Wednesday 16th August at 1.30pm in St Nicholas Parish Church, Castle Gate, Lanark ML11 9DZ. After the burial there will be a reception at the Cartland Bridge Hotel, Glasgow Road, Lanark ML11 9UE
Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BADMINTONscotland, led the tributes, saying: “John was a tireless worker for Lanarkshire and Scottish badminton and no-one worked harder at encouraging youngsters to take up our sport. He was one of a kind and we will all miss him and his tireless enthusiasm.”
BADMINTONscotland President Ian Campbell added: “John was one in a million. He was always a pleasure to talk to. His enthusiasm for badminton and the players he coached knew no bounds and he will be sadly missed.”
Until his late 50s, nobody in Lanarkshire was able to take more than a few points from John during a spell in which he won the county singles title on 23 occasions and earned him four Scotland appearances.
He also coached Scotland’s 1970 Commonwealth Games squad in Edinburgh and even carried the Baton down Lanark’s Main Street during the 2014 Commonwealth Games Baton Relay.
John first started playing badminton in 1948 as a 15-year-old at the Boys’ Brigade and more than 40 years later he was still swinging a racket on the way to gold in the 75+ category at the World Masters events in Denmark, Australia and Canada between 1989 and 2005. In all he won six World Masters titles.
His dominance on court dwindled in later years as diabetes took its toll but it didn’t stop him coaching. It earned him the Derek Roarty Award for his contribution to the sport in 2013. In the 2014 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list he was appointed MBE for services to badminton over 65 years.
He and Marisa Baird used to teach up to 80 children between the ages of 7 and 17 the finer points of the game and in the school holidays he would run morning classes every day in the YMCA Hall in Lanark and was an ever-present when they were playing in competitions..
He did all this without remuneration and regularly bought shuttles for them out of his own pocket.
Away from badminton John was the 1977 Lord Cornet of the Royal Burgh of Lanark – an award bestowed in 1977 for his contribution to the town – he rode in the Lanimer Festival and inspected the Burgh boundaries on foot every year.
His other claim to fame came in 1948 when he saved a man from drowning in the Clyde near Hyndford Bridge.
BADMINTONscotland Chair Ronnie Conway added his own, heartfelt tribute:
"It was with very great sadness that I learned today of the death of John (“Wee Johnny”) Barrie.
"Our badminton family has lost one of its great players, its great coaches and perhaps its greatest ever enthusiast.
"I first met John as a player and opponent some 45 years ago. Slight, small, with no backhand and no smash to speak of, I reckoned this former international (then well into his 30’s) was easy meat.
"I was not the first nor the last to be sent homewards to think again, having been comprehensively out run, out foxed and out manoeuvred.
"I got to know him better over the years that followed. Gracious in victory and in defeat, he was part of an amateur generation which was fiercely competitive but which played the game in the true Corinthian spirit.
"And how he loved the game. As the years went on he turned to coaching, with ever an eye open for the next up and coming prospect (and always keen to let you know of his discovery).
"And of course he was President of the SBU at the time of the 1997 World Championships.
"He is a legend in Lanarkshire badminton, for the time and selfless commitment he gave to the sport.
"I later played in a successful Lanarkshire County team competing in the English Counties when he was the manager. Money was tight, but Johnny always seemed able to come up with a sponsor to help us out, or so he said.
"It was much later that I learned from a 3rd party that the “sponsor” in question was frequently John himself, financing the team out of his own pocket.
"We all know there are people who take from the sport, and there are people who give and give and give. Wee Johnny was in the latter category for well over 50 years.
"So farewell John, player, mentor and friend. We were lucky to have you.
“Legend” is a word which is frequently overused, but on this occasion is entirely appropriate."