“Badminton is Life, Nothing Else Matters!” – A Tribute to David Johnston

David Johnston was known to many as DJ. He was a lifelong supporter & developer of badminton with his first club starting in Cumbernauld 28 years ago. His sessions catered for everyone, children as young as 5 and up to older adults attended running across various venues.  His influence went beyond badminton, having a positive impact on everyone around him providing a countless number of people – both junior and adults to play & coach badminton. One of his many famous quotes included;

‘Badminton is life, nothing else matters!’

which sums up his passion and enthusiasm for the game.

Throughout his time, David delivered badminton across many parts of Scotland including Fife, Falkirk, Stirling and more recently in the Lanarkshire area. David served firstly as NLC NOPES Officer and then later undertaking the role of NL Leisure Badminton Development Officer which allowed him to expand and grow badminton across North Lanarkshire – introducing even more people to the game.  This was achieved by David’s drive & determination to deliver badminton to as many schools across NL and setting up further community classes including in areas such as Airdrie, Bellshill, Holytown & Motherwell.  This was to ensure that keen young school pupils had a pathway to continue to participate & progress.  He was also part of the NL BDG and more recently served on the Central Badminton Association (CBA) management committee supporting further opportunities for social adult competition – notably winning the best outfit at one of the Xmas events.  Many people will remember the trips sportscotland National Centre Inverclyde in Largs he organised for junior & adult players.  David would put players through their paces and ensured that regardless of their age or ability that everyone aimed to have positive experience. In addition, he was always able to provide a fun weekend for people to come together to play badminton, socialise, keep fit and create friendships and bonds that will last forever.  More recently David would continue to take groups away to Gartmore House.  Further to his significant contribution to the growth of badminton participation he was also pivotal in organising the badminton part of the event at the Lanarkshire 2011 International Children’s Games (ICG) and supporting the Lanarkshire Team.

David in the Sir Craig Reedie Centre 

David also was part of the Queen’s Baton Relay for 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and he won various accolades including Sports Personality of the Year. His goal was to see all children in North Lanarkshire be offered the opportunity to take part in badminton and he achieved this by going into many schools in the area and offering coaching that had never been available before. He raised thousands for various charities through running badminton tournaments and raffles.

Blow are tributes to David, written by people who both knew him on a professional and personal level: 

Jill O’Neil, Badminton Scotland’s Chair of Engagement:

David lived and breathed our sport and it would be very difficult to find a more passionate advocate for badminton. I first met him when he was involved with Cumbernauld Juniors and his love of the game was just infectious. He was an absolute pleasure to work with – a real character who was so driven to bring badminton into everyone’s lives. He loved every aspect of badminton and had as much enthusiasm and interest for the young child or adult picking up a racket for the first time as he did a senior international player. Increasing engagement and raising participation levels came so naturally to him and my experience of him was that he was a genuinely warm, funny, self-deprecating and caring person who was loved by so many people.

He successfully encouraged many children, young people and adults to play badminton and in addition has also inspired a generation of young coaches who loved to work alongside him and will, I’m sure, continue on his legacy. He would put himself down at times and I’m not sure he ever totally realised the massively positive impact he had in the lives of those who were lucky enough to be part of his network nor how good a coach he was. That was David, it was always about others – never himself.

He’s an enormous loss to our sport and will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

Gillian Allan, Group Convenor of the Glasgow & North Strathclyde (G&NS) Badminton Group

How to capture in words the character of Dave Johnston?!  His enthusiasm for all things badminton was unbelievable and I would be hard pushed to think of someone else as passionate about the sport as he was.

His enthusiasm, spirit of resilience and good humour saw badminton flourish in North Lanarkshire and, in particular, Cumbernauld.

I got to know him well through the G&NS Junior League and he took a real interest in every player he entered into all events.  He would walk round the courts supporting and encouraging his players and always had a word of praise for them at the end of the game, regardless of the outcome.  A lot of the players from his club in Cumbernauld have gone on to be coaches / start clubs etc and this is all testament to him.

The badminton world will be a sadder place without him.

Bill Hogg, player, coach & former Badminton Scotland employee

It’s very difficult to find the words that best describe David Johnston. Anyone that ever met him would know how passionate he was about everything he did. David was someone that always put his students first, nothing he ever did was to make himself look better.

He had a wicked sense of humour, and this also came through in his coaching style, he had so much trust and respect from the players in his groups that he was able to give them a bit of stick when they made silly mistakes during games session, this wasn’t only reserved for his own players, I also remember Myself, Russell, Gordon Thomson and a young Adam Hall being given stick by David when we attended any of classes. In my time at Yonex, organising a demo night at Davids class, it was always easy to get a player to attend thanks to the way David and his class treated the players.

David was always trying to improve, and would attend CPD, and speak to and share ideas with other coaches. His caring nature and love of badminton also came through with the number of his pupils he put through Coach Education Qualifications, ensuring they stayed in the sport for longer and helping develop the next crop of youngsters coming through.

David thought the world of Russell, (the feeling was mutual) and my family were honoured when David organised a charity night for the Russell Hogg Trust, it was such a great night and we were overwhelmed by the numbers attending and the amount raised on the night.

I was lucky enough to get to know David away from the court too, finding out more about the man. His love and passion for badminton was only a tiny fraction of the love and passion he had for his family and friends, you could see his pride when he spoke about his family and everything they did. He also took a real interest in the lives of his friends, and you knew that when he asked “How are you doing?” he actually meant it, and took a real interest in the answers he received.

A sad loss to the badminton world, but also to the world in general. A great coach, man, friend.

My thoughts are with Marion and the family.

Badminton Scotland honours David’s memory and sends our deepest condolences to David’s friends and family in this very difficult time.