TRIBUTES were this week paid to a man who served the people of Cowdenbeath for 35 years as a councillor.

Tom Dair, 85, who lived in Barclay Street, and served on three councils from the early 1970s, died on Wednesday, November 10, after a short illness.

The former Beath High School pupil became part of the industry which the town was built on as a mining engineer and was to become one of Cowdenbeath’s most well-known faces and a true community stalwart.

Tom was a Labour councillor and served on the old Cowdenbeath Town Council from 1972, before the Regional and District Council era began, where he was Dean of Guild for some time.

In 1974 he was elected to Fife Regional Council where he became education convener, a position he was to hold for many years.

During his time in that role the development of community education gathered pace and in the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area Beath High, and the new Lochgelly High School, became important facilities in their communities, providing sporting facilities and classes which allowed people to gain important passes which gave them the opportunity to get good jobs.

In 1996, he was elected to Fife Council, as the District and Regional Council era came to an end, and he held a number of key positions including that of convener for a time, and served on that authority until 2007.

Tom was a real Cowdenbeath man and he was a very active member of the town’s Labour Party and was keen on trying to see improvements made as the community adapted to the rundown of the coal industry.

In the 1970s, unemployment was a major problem in the area and Tom played his part in attracting new industries and businesses to the town, including a new lease of life for the NCB Workshops complex, in Church Street.

He was also a committed Cowdenbeath FC fan and spent many decades watching the Blue Brazil, and he was so pleased to see the club win a place in the First Division which later became the Championship.

He followed the club on the rollercoaster periods that being a Cowdenbeath fan brought, seeing many promotion winning seasons and also many relegations. He was proud to become a life member of the club in the 1980s.

Apart from football he was a keen gardener and member of Cowdenbeath Horticulture Society and was a regular golfer when younger, and as a councillor he played his part in the creation of the Dora Course on the former opencast mining site outside the town.

Former Prime Minister and MP for the Dunfermline East constituency, Gordon Brown, paid this tribute: “We mourn the loss of Tom Dair who served Cowdenbeath and Fife for over 35 years as a councillor.

“His passion was the education of Fife’s young people and he raised standards and opportunities for all children when as chairman of Education he drove the new build and refurbishment of schools across the region, all of which saw Fife having the highest standards of education in Scotland and indeed across the UK.

“Tom also served as convener of Fife Council with great distinction and always with the interests of local families at heart. He gave great public service over many decades and our thoughts are with his family.”

Fife MSP Alex Rowley, who served with Tom on Fife Council for many years, said: “My thoughts are with Tom Dair’s family at what is a sad time but they can be truly proud of what he achieved for others through his driven determination to make Fife the best education service in the country.

“It was his belief that every child must get a fair chance, that I remember way back when I first knew him almost 40 years ago, and his passion put Fife as a leader in so many fronts, like free nursery education sitting alongside at that time with the very best youth and community services.

“He was also behind many developments such as Lochore Meadows Country Park, which he ensured was an education facility offering outdoor education to Fife youngsters.

“For Tom our schools had to be the best, but also there had to be a much wider offering for young people all of which meant that during his period in office Fife led the way in what councils could do.

“The fact is that many who gained from Fife’s rounded approach to education will never know the role Tom Dair played in making it happen, and that is all the more reason for me to pay tribute to his contribution to public services in Fife.

“He worked in the pits and was a successful mining engineer in his own right, but sitting alongside that, he also had a distinguished political career spanning decades that touched so many lives in Fife and his legacy continues to this day.”

Tom and wife Helen were married for 64 years and he was a much loved dad, granddad and great-grandad.

His funeral was held yesterday (Thursday) at Dunfermline Crematorium.