Time to say goodbye

A fine tribute to a man of honour and integrity.

On Tuesday, 20th February, we said a final farewell to one of our own. 

The crematorium at Roucan Loch was the beautiful and fitting venue for the funeral of Sam Johnston, who with his wife Tina has formed an integral part of our group from the beginning.

Those paying their respects witnessed a send-off that exuded both class and dignity throughout. 

The celebrant for the occasion orated Tina’s eulogy to her dearly missed husband with style. We learned of Sam’s varied work life, including distinguished careers in the Royal Air Force, the police service in Glasgow back in the days when your typical ‘bobby on the beat’ was still respectable and approachable, and rounded off at Ports & Harbours until retirement – all of which had begun rather incongruously with a job in a knitwear factory!

Tina’s son Darren gave his tribute with such panache that a career in after dinner speaking is surely his for the taking, should the notion ever take him. Darren’s tales of his exploits with Sam were delivered with a palpable, heartfelt fondness, and evoked laughter and tears simultaneously and in equal measure.

Then, in a surprise to almost everyone at Roucan Loch, Tina had arranged for soprano Claudia Wood to sing the well-known Italian composition ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ – a touch of class that was a befitting and emotional punctuation to an inspirational farewell.

Sam’s quiet and understated nature belied a quiet and understated stoicism; he was the anchor that steadied Tina’s ship on stormy seas. That stoicism remained intact right until the very end, despite the severity of his illness; the stoicism with which Sam handled those difficult final days and moments not only served as a bastion of strength for the loved ones by his side until he passed, but was the fundamental measure of the man himself.

The affection for this gentle man was tangible and manifest, and however great or small any individual’s contribution may be, from family and friends both near and far, we can trust that the network of love and respect from the hearts and souls in attendance at Roucan Loch that day, and beyond, will be the raft that keeps Tina afloat as she is cast adrift in her grief.

Tina, please know that every one of us is available whenever you may need us, at any time, for however long.

Finally, it is with great pride and privilege that we announce the first ever posthumous award on the Declaration of Dumfries Wall of Honour in loving memory of the late Sam Johnston, and to commemorate the man who was loved by so many. We humbly ask Tina to accept this sentiment on Sam’s behalf.

With heartache and sadness we must now move forward with our lives, accepting that Sam will no longer be with us. He will be missed by all who knew him and whose lives he touched; but to be the man that Sam was, to live such a life full of dignity, dedication and respect, and for such a life to reach its finale with his devoted wife Tina, steadfast by his side – and then for that life to be rounded off with a tribute such as that witnessed at Roucan Loch…? 

Could Sam possibly have scripted it better than that?

Tina’s Eulogy to Sam

Today, as we gather to honour the life of a remarkable man, Sam Johnston, we are reminded of the profound impact he had on all who were fortunate enough to know him.   

Born on April 28th, 1950, to Archibald and Babsie Johnston, Sam was a beloved son, brother, uncle, husband, father, and grandfather.  

Growing up in the picturesque landscapes of the Shetland Islands, Sam was surrounded by the love of his siblings, Alistair, Rose, Gideon, and James. Together, they crafted happy memories that would forever be etched in his heart.  

Sam’s journey through life was marked by a steadfast dedication to service and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. In 1966, he embarked on his professional career, working in a knitwear factory before bravely joining the Royal Air Force in 1968, where he served with honour.  

In 1974, Sam transitioned to a new chapter of service, joining the ranks of the police force in Glasgow, where his integrity, compassion, and unwavering dedication to justice earned him the respect of all who knew him.  

In 1979 Sam moved back to the Shetlands where he worked at Ports and Harbours until retirement.  

In the 1980s, Sam’s sense of duty led him to join the Territorial Army, further exemplifying his commitment to serving his country and community.  

Yet, amidst his noble endeavours, Sam found his greatest joy and fulfilment in his family. In the 1970s, he found love and companionship in Anne, becoming not only a loving husband but also a devoted stepfather to Karen and Kevin.  

Together, Sam and Anne welcomed their own children into the world, Claire in 1977 and David in 1981, completing their family.  

Claire gave birth to Scott in 1999 and the bond shared between Sam and Scott was particularly special. Sam embraced the role of ‘Scampi Grandad’ with delight and enthusiasm. Sam’s role as a father and grandfather brought him immense pride and joy.  

In 1999, a new and joyous chapter began for Sam when he met me, Tina. I became the love of his life. I moved to Shetland in 2004 to be with Sam, this marked the start of our life together, culminating in the purchase of our first home. Our marriage in 2005 in Prague, was not just a celebration of love but also a union of families, blending lives and hearts in a partnership of mutual respect and affection.   

In reflecting on the life of my beloved husband, Sam, I cannot help but marvel at the depth of his love and commitment to our family. Over the course of 25 years, he seamlessly wove himself into the very fabric of our lives, embracing not only me but also my children Mandy, Darren and Faye, and grandchildren Alex, Leon, Maya, Robyn, Max, Alfie, Hayden, Isak and Miles, as his own.  

Sam was more than just a husband and father; he was a pillar of strength, a source of unwavering support, and a beacon of love. His presence filled our home with warmth, and his guidance shaped our paths, and his love knew no bounds. From the simple moments of togetherness to the milestones we celebrated, he was always there, his faithful presence a comforting reassurance in our lives.  

To our children and grandchildren, he was not just a stepfather or step-grandfather; he was a source of love, reliability, and wisdom. He embraced each one of them with open arms, and his impact on their lives will continue to resonate for generations to come.  


Among the cherished memories that we hold dear of Sam, none shine brighter than those spent navigating the open waters, with his loyal friend and sailing companion, Gibby, by his side. Sam was a highly skilled sailor, and together they formed an invincible team, facing perilous conditions with a resilience that mirrored their unwavering friendship. Their shared passion for sailing was more than just a hobby; it was a testament to the bond they shared and the countless adventures they embarked upon.  


In the company of Gibby and Alexis, Sam found solace, laughter, and camaraderie. Their sailing escapades were not just about conquering the seas but about forging memories that would endure a lifetime. Whether navigating through calm waters or weathering storms, their unity was unwavering, and their spirits soared with each gust of wind.  


The relocation to Liverpool, and eventually settling in Morrinton, Dumfries, in January 2013, opened a fresh chapter in Sam’s life, where his innate ability to forge deep connections and serve the community was once again evident. In Morrinton, Sam’s warm and engaging personality made him a beloved figure, contributing to the community through his active involvement in the Fairtrade Group and the Morrinton Men’s Group. His dedication to fairness and justice was further demonstrated by his participation in the D&G Action group, advocating for community causes with passion and integrity.  
Sam may no longer be with us in body, but his spirit will forever sail on, carried by the memories of the seas he once conquered alongside his dear friends.

7 thoughts on “Time to say goodbye”

  1. Thank you Mike for your heartfelt words.
    It is with great honour that I accept Sam’s posthumous award of Wall of Honour from Declaration of Dumfries.

  2. Wonderful commemoration for a deeply loved and highly thought of human being and beautiful inspiring soul.
    Thankyou Mike for Sam’s well deserved place of honour.

  3. Oh Mike what a wonderful gesture for Sam and richly deserved. In the short time I knew him he has left such a lasting impressing as a good, kind and quietly, honourable man. It was a privilege to have known him and his funeral was a fitting experience to his legacy. Lovely man.

  4. Thank you Mike & Tina. A wonderful tribute. I regret that I never met Sam. Thank you for your beautiful eulogy Tina. My condolences – and many blessings to you. 🙏

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