Harry Polbain Obituary, Death – Harry Hassall, Polbain, and Achiltibuie (1936-2023) The Coigach Community Trust (Hall) committee mourns the death of one of its most steadfast and supportive members, without whose tireless volunteer efforts our incredible Hall would not be the excellent community hub that it is.
Peter Drake served on the Committee prior to and during the Hall’s construction over 20 years ago, and he remembers it vividly: “Of all the many members of the community who gave so generously of their time and money to deliver the new Community Hall, Harry more than anyone was tireless when it came to going the extra mile; not just travelling to meetings with potential funders in Inverness, Dingwall or Ullapool but even taking a model of the proposed building to London to show the Millennium Commission – all at his own expense.
Work on-site began after the community’s share of the funds was raised and grants were approved, among other things. Harry was on-site every day and developed a strong working relationship with the site foreman, ensuring that any problems were resolved quickly and efficiently. There is no doubt that without his constant presence and the contractor’s trust, details would have been overlooked. During this critical period, when the Hall Committee met at least once every two weeks, Harry managed the Hall finances and project budget with an efficiency and dedication that few volunteers could match. The £672,000 project was completed 42p under budget! As Treasurer of the Community Trust, Harry remained involved long after the Hall’s completion, ensuring that everything worked properly and that it was accessible to all. He simply wanted it to be a success for everyone in the community.”
Harry was a driving force in getting our Playing Field funded and built, according to Playing Field committee member Mark Irvine. He encouraged a group of locals [including Mark himself, Angus Macleod, and Steve Husband] to participate in a fundraising cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats, and then worked hard to raise the remaining funds. He worked tirelessly alongside the architects and builders to complete the project. It would not have happened if he had not been there.”
Apart from his volunteer work at the Community Hall and Playing Field, Harry went to the primary school one lunchtime a week for a couple of years and coached the Achiltibuie Primary School Chess Club, which culminated in all of the kids in the club, from P4 to P7, competing in a National chess challenge in Glasgow with great excitement. He was a founding member and Treasurer of Achiltibuie Angling Club for many years
Doctor Harry Hassall, former head of Leeds University’s Biochemistry Department, was a lifelong socialist who used his zeal and formidable organizational skills for the benefit of the community, who adored Coigach and always enjoyed – and was himself- good company.
Our thoughts are with his wife, Diana, and their entire family.