John Collie passed away at the Ayrshire Hospice, Ayr, Scotland at 11:10 am on December 30th 2009. John, a popular and well known personality in Seychelles was active in conservation for many years.He had been ill for at least two years with cancer but was misdiagnosed as coeliac disease a year and a half ago. Therese, his wife informed us that John had came out of the hospice on Christmas eve to be with his family for Christmas Day. He returned to the hospice on Boxing Day but his health had significantly deteriorated.
John started his career as conservation ranger in Ayrshire Scotland where he had grown up and subsequently became a teacher of combined science in Seychelles. His passion for conservation drew him to Aldabra where he was the general manager from 1983 to 1984. John went through various trials and tribulations on Aldabra. But the atoll had woven its magic around John and he returned there for some time again as the general manager in 1987.
From 1988 onwards John had to provide for his family and not finding work in what was then a very small conservation department he worked at the National Travel Agency as the Operations Manager for 4 years.
Nirmal Shah recalls “I ran across John him at the NTA desk in 1990 and at the time I had been given the responsibility of developing the new Conservation and National Parks service. I felt he was wasting his skills outside the conservation field and I recruited him as Conservation Officer in 1991, an important national position at the time”.
Friends say that John was really contented during his time as Conservation Officer. Nirmal Shah says, ”John and I spent a lot of time together as our Division was in an exciting stage of growth and development. He played a key role in conservation in Seychelles”.
The Conservation and National Parks service was broken up by 1994 and John became the Director of Conservation and Marine Parks By 1997, the organization that Nirmal and John had been developing in the early 1990’s called the Biodiversity Agency was set up but as the Marine Parks Authority (MPA) and John was made the Managing Director of this new agency based on Ste. Anne island.
With large hotel developments envisaged on St Anne and the planned relocation of the MPA headquarters John grew disenchanted and returned to Scotland in 2002. He became the Area Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage which mostly involved assessing the impact of any kind of development on the natural environment of the South Ayrshire area, an area he grew up in and his colleagues said he felt passionate about protecting.
John leaves behind he wonderful wife Therese and two children Ginny and Megan.