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An appreciation of Eric Hamilton

Author:  Donald Rodger
Last Updated:  28/08/2019
Eric Hamilton

Eric Hamilton

1956 to 2019

Eric Hamilton, a well-known and highly respected figure in the Scottish arboricultural industry, has sadly passed away at the all too young age of 62. He was a unique individual who made a major contribution to Scottish arboriculture through a life working with trees. His loss will be deeply felt by many and Scottish arboriculture is much the poorer for it.

Eric was born in Kirknewton and began his long career as a young apprentice at Livingston Development Corporation Parks Department. A bright student and quick learner, he gained several qualifications and quickly made his mark, progressing academically as he advanced through the ranks. With an interest in trees from a young age, Eric’s enthusiasm and drive led him to Merrist Wood College to complete the three-year arboriculture course.

As a newly qualified professional arborist, Eric worked as a contractor and for short spells as a tree officer in Derbyshire and Motherwell before taking on the post of Forestry Officer with Dundee City Council in 1981. He was to make this role very much his own for the next 38 years and leaves behind a remarkable legacy in the city. He planted many thousands of trees over his long tenure in the post, many of which he was proud to show off, and raised the whole standard of tree care in all its various facets. His achievements while at Dundee are too many to list here: needless to say he made his mark in style and will be a hard act to follow. He was, without doubt, at the forefront in promoting the arboricultural industry and improving professional practice and standards in tree care.

Eric’s contribution to arboriculture in Scotland extends well beyond Dundee. He joined the Arboricultural Association in 1976 and played an active role in this organisation over his 43 years of membership. With the re-inception of the Scottish Branch in 1996, Eric was heavily involved at the outset and served, at one time or another, as Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. He also represented the branch on national committees. Eric was a ‘doer’ and instigator who could always be relied upon.

Never shy to express his opinion, his advice and wisdom were invariably sought and valued. He was committed to raising the profile of arboriculture in Scotland and he undoubtedly achieved this through his work in Dundee and active involvement with the branch over many years. His contribution to the AA was rightly recognised with the Ken Martin Memorial Award for services to arboriculture in Scotland, and latterly with a special certificate presented in appreciation by AA HQ.

Eric (fifth from right) with fellow Scottish Branch members at Doune Park in 2015.

Eric (fifth from right) with fellow Scottish Branch members at Doune Park in 2015. (Photo: Donald Rodger)

Eric was one of life’s outstanding and memorable individuals. He was always great company and enjoyed a social occasion and an opportunity for some banter. He was kind, thoughtful and supportive of others, and always ready to provide sage advice. His dry sense of humour and quick one-liners will be fondly remembered by all who were fortunate enough to have been in his company.

At the centre of Eric’s life was his family. A husband to Carol for 36 years, he was devoted to his three sons, Greig, Ruaridh and Scott, and has instilled in them a love of nature and the great outdoors. There were many occasions where Eric brought the young boys to Arboricultural Association events to expose them to the world of trees and tree people. His sons can rightly be proud of their father.

Eric’s life was to take a dramatic turn in 2015: diagnosed with lung cancer, he was given only three months to live. However, with the success of a new trial drug and spades of grit and determination, Eric stubbornly defied this prognosis. Running became a new focus in his life and, remarkably, he completed several marathons and long distance races. In doing so, he raised many thousands of pounds for the Maggie’s Centre charity, an organisation which was dear to his heart and a great support to him in his latter years. In typical style he kept working at Dundee City Council and contributing to AA branch work for as long as he was physically able. Eric dealt with his illness with great courage and stoicism and was never one to indulge in self-pity. Such is the testament to his enthusiasm and commitment to his love of trees.

Eric’s death will leave a huge and unfillable void in the small but close arboricultural community in Scotland. He will always be fondly remembered as a passionate and committed advocate of arboriculture, and he has undoubtedly left his mark in this regard. More importantly, however, we will remember him as a dear friend and colleague, a kind, caring and loyal individual and one of life’s good guys.

This article was taken form Issue 186 Autumn 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.