Former rector of St Mary’s

A FORMER rector of St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Church, Arbroath, and one of Tayside’s most respected clergymen, the Very Rev. Ian Watt, has died aged 78.

A native of Glasgow, he was educated at Glasgow Academy and began training for the ministry of the Scottish Episcopal Church at Coates Hall Theological College, Edinburgh.

His working life began as a mechanical engineer with Albion Motors, Glasgow, but he attended St Oswald’s Kings Park Church in the city where he came under the influence of the then Rector Alastair Haggart, who himself later became Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

At his bishop’s insistence he served out his apprenticeship and through that learned a practical and effective approach to church problems.

In 1959 he married Rita McGill, a teacher, and they had a family of two daughters and a son.

He was ordained as a priest in 1961 and served for three years on the staff of St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee, where he rejoined his former Rector Alistair Haggart, before then moving to Fintry as curate in charge.

For the three years between 1966 and ‘69 he was rector at St Mary’s Church, Arbroath. Bishop John Howe then persuaded him to accept the appointment as Provost of St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth. He became Dean of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane in 1989.

The Scottish Episcopal Church recognised Mr Watt’s high qualities of leadership and judgement and chose him as the convener of its Mission Board, and on the death of its Secretary General, Ian Stuart, he took over as an interim.

To help him carry out his extensive responsibilities in the church, Ian moved from the cathedral to St Paul’s in Kinross, where he and Rita remained until his retirement.

Following his retirement he offered his services to businesses as a counsellor for the Listening Ear.

At a service to celebrate Mr Watt’s life and ministry, the Very Rev. Robin Forrest described him as a most gentle and affectionate man.

And a close friend and colleague, the Rt Rev. Michael Hare-Duke explained that when he was elected as the Bishop of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Ian’s friendship, honesty and good humour made him a good colleague from whom he learned much. He praised him for the insights he brought to church policy and for his friendship and ministry.

He concluded: “Those who knew him will remember him with gratitude and affection.”