Dr Fred Nicoll - dedicated Eyemouth GP and scuba diving enthusiast (1929-2013)

Dr Frederick Nicoll, Eyemouth
Dr Frederick Nicoll, Eyemouth

Fred Nicoll, family doctor, was the very essence of a gentleman and always appreciated how fortunate he was to live for over 50 years in the fishing town of Eyemouth. There, he ran a GP practice with his wife Ann and took every opportunity to participate in community life.

Frederick (Fred) James Nicoll was born in Dundee in 1929 and brought up in the Angus town of Forfar with his younger brother Maxwell where their father, George, was a cattle dealer and their mother, Agnes, a nurse. Fred was named after his uncle, Frederick Lamond, who died in Rouen in 1916 of wounds sustained in the Great War.

In 1948 Fred was called up for National Service with the Royal Army Medical Corps at Aldershot. There, he learnt shorthand which he continued to use throughout his professional life.

In 1949 Fred went on to study medicine at Edinburgh University where he met his wife to-be, Ann Sutherland. After graduating, they married in 1956 and then moved to Forres in 1957 where Fred took up the post of assistant GP.

In 1961, with three young daughters, the family moved to Eyemouth, where Fred and Ann set up in General Practice in the family home. As the family grew to five daughters and a son this arrangement wasn’t ideal (sometimes requiring the children to tip-toe en route to the bathroom past waiting patients) and so the practice moved to premises in Albert Road, with a branch surgery in Ayton, and then to the purpose built Eyemouth Health Centre in 1983.

Fred and Ann complemented each other in their medical practice; Ann, unable to drive, would conduct clinics and manage the increasing amount of paperwork whilst Fred could be called out day or night to drive to patients or scenes of accidents. With sometimes perilous local industries such as fishing and farming and some deceptively dangerous local country roads, Fred developed considerable expertise in emergency care. This was extended through his involvement with the Eyemouth Lifeboat, taking part in sea and cliff rescues, and with the Red Cross providing professional advice and developing Adult First Aid training.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was one of Fred’s passions. Serving as Honorary Medical Advisor for many years, his long-time affiliation was recognised in being awarded a silver badge from the Scottish Lifeboat Council in 1989 and a gold badge from HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the RNLI, in 1996.

Fred had an affinity for marine activities and was enthralled by the daily lives and stories of the local fishing community. He was the owner of various watercraft and an enthusiastic sailor in his yacht, time and tide permitting. Fascinated by the undersea world and inspired by Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s accounts of SCUBA diving, Fred co-founded the Eyemouth and District Sub-Aqua Club (EDSAC) in 1961. EDSAC quickly gained support in the community by assisting local fishermen with underwater inspection and salvage of their boats and equipment.

These were pioneering days for EDSAC with Fred and several members choosing to make their own diving suits using paper templates, neoprene, glue and yellow insulating tape!

As Eyemouth became an ever more popular diving destination, Fred’s diving knowledge proved to be vital in providing medical assistance to divers in difficulties. Keen on photography, Fred was renowned for never being without a camera. Fascinated by the communities and countryside surrounding Eyemouth, he photographed the daily life of the local towns and villages. Fred had an ability to listen to, understand and appreciate people and made many strong, long-lasting friendships, all of which he valued greatly.

Travelling was another favourite pursuit including taking the family on holiday in a never ending series of VW camper vans and touring at home and abroad with Ann.

Enthusiastic about lifelong learning, Fred participated in numerous activities including Gaelic Classes, Scottish Country Dancing and the Eyemouth Fishermen’s Choir and from parishioner to elder, was a dedicated member of Eyemouth Parish Church. Brought up in a farming environment, Fred always enjoyed spending time in his garden.

Despite losing Ann in 2005, these interests and the company of his many friends and grandchildren kept Fred inspired and engaged with the Eyemouth Community for the remainder of his life.

Fred is survived by his five daughters, one son and ten grandchildren.