Bute says goodbye to much-loved Leonard

The late Leonard Cumming with his widow Irene.
The late Leonard Cumming with his widow Irene.

Last month saw the funeral of a well-loved Bute citizen, with the life of Leonard Cumming commemorated in Mount Stuart’s marble chapel.

It was a fitting setting for Leonard’s send-off as he spent years as a tour guide for the estate and was known to have loved telling visitors about the house and the artwork in his own inimitable style.

Leonard (first left) at the wedding of Iain and Helen MacLeod in Rothesay.

Leonard (first left) at the wedding of Iain and Helen MacLeod in Rothesay.

The service was led by Rev. Bill Armstrong, and included readings, songs and poems performed by Leonard’s relatives and some of his many friends on the island.

Leonard was born in Edinburgh in 1933 and his family moved to Bute when he was five for his father’s career.

It started a lifelong love affair with the island and years later when he went to work at the Clydesdale Bank office in Skelmorlie, it’s said the first thing Leonard did was turn his desk around to face the window so he could look at Bute whenever he wanted.

The Clydesdale, formerly the British Linen Bank, was Leonard’s first and only employer.

Leonard and Irene on their own wedding day in 1963.

Leonard and Irene on their own wedding day in 1963.

He joined straight after leaving Rothesay Academy and stayed with the bank through posts at Ayr, Stranraer, Newton Stewart and Skelmorlie before eventually returning to Rothesay with his wife Irene and son Mark in 1984.

Leonard and Irene had met in 1961 and married on a snowy day in Glasgow in 1963.

After retiring from the bank he embraced his role as a tour guide and became a distinguished figure in Bute’s social and charity scenes, in part thanks to his distinctive moustache and expressive eyebrows.

He and Irene stayed at their house on Craigmore Road up to and throughout a battle with cancer, which began with his diagnosis in December last year and ended on July 6.

At the service on Friday, July 21, Donald Kinnear recounted how Leonard loved sports and threw himself into a huge variety of groups and causes on the island, including the Friends of Rothesay Castle, the Buteshire National History Society and the Bute Arts Club to name a few.

Meg Young sang A Red Red Rose and Jean Moffat recited one of Leonard’s own poems, Heavens Above, while Mark gave an entertaining and heartfelt account of the Leonard he knew, and the one he came to know over the last few months of his life.

One of the hymns, Abide With Me, was chosen by Leonard because of his enduring memories of singing it as a boy scout in Perthshire.

Donations were accepted on the day of the service for Marie Curie and McMillan Nursing.