The Highland Games
athlete Jay Scott, who married actress and singer Fay Lenore and built
Duck Bay Marina on Loch Lomond, has died at the age of 66 following a
He never fully recovered from a tractor accident at the family farm near
Aberfoyle in 1973, in which he suffered a serious head injury.
Born in Ayrshire, Mr Scott's family moved to farm on Inchmurrin island,
Loch Lomond, when he was two years old. Rowing to school across the
water every day with his older brother Tom, Jay soon became skilled in
boatmanship and acquired a considerable knowledge of the loch, later
coming to the rescue of many a stricken tourist.
After boarding school, he attended the West of Scotland Agricultural
College before returning to farm on Inchmurrin. Despite claiming to be
one of the smallest children at school, he soon built up an athletic
physique and began to excel in Highland Games competitions.
His athletic stature caught the eye of his future wife Fay when they met
40 years ago today at Loch Lomond.
Fay was starring in a show at the Alhambra in Glasgow when they started
dating. They wed the next year at Kilmaronock Church, near Drymen.
They lived on Inchmurrin for six years as Mr Scott continued to collect
trophy after trophy at Highland Games competitions.
The Scotts moved to a house on the shore of Loch Lomond in 1964 and
began work on what is now Duck Bay Marina. Mr Scott won a Civic Trust
award for his work on the complex, but tragedy struck soon afterwards
when the family home was burned down in a fire.
The family moved on a few years later to a farm near Aberfoyle, but soon
afterwards, Mr Scott suffered a serious head injury in a tractor
He no longer took part in as many competitions, but the accident, and a
subsequent brain operation, left him in poor health and his glory days
as one of the country's top athletes were over, although he still holds
a Highland Games high-jump record.
The family moved to Edinburgh where they took over a guest house in
Portobello. They later gave up the business and Mrs Scott taught drama
at Queen Margaret College.
Recently, Mr Scott had been focusing on the refurbishment of a 40-foot
boat on Loch Lomond.
However, he suffered a major set-back when the vessel was vandalised,
and, after a minor stroke, he was seriously ill in the last six months
of his life, and succumbed to a heart attack two days before his 67th
Following a funeral service at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh, on
Wednesday, he will be buried in his favourite Scott tartan kilt, with a
floral Highland Games hammer by his side.
He is survived by his widow Fay, daughter Shona, son Robert and three
Remembering a great athletic all-rounder
The younger Investment's wedding not withstanding, the most affecting
part of the Farmer's week has been the funeral, in Edinburgh, of a
laddie who learned hand-milking on an island in Loch Lomond, who studied
agriculture at Auchencruive and who farmed hill cows and caravans at
They met 40 years ago when the Farmer was an apprentice at the Highland
Games and Jay Scott was best all-round athlete Scotland had ever
Fay Lenore, the singer with whom Scott made the couple-of-the-year 39
years ago, asked the Farmer to say something at the funeral about the
athletic achievements of his old friend ... ''and not to be too serious.
Give us a laugh.''
It wasn't an easy contract but this is roughly what the Farmer said:
When Jay Scott went to the Bahamas to toss the cabar in the early
sixties they erected a 20ft high, full colour cardboard cut-out of him
at the entrace to Nassau airport. When the hero emerged from the plane
an excited crowd pushed forward. I heard one of the natives say, ''I
jist gotta see this Jay Scatt. He 20ft tall.''
And you know, he wasn't disappointed.
For, though he was mere 6ft 2ins, ''20ft tall'' was a metaphor for Jay's
early life. Everything he did was larger than life, done faster, and cut
more corners than was normal. Jay was the sort of person who when he
entered a company lifted the whole atmosphere. He quickened the blood
wherever he went. Many people said he should have played the part of
Geordie in the film about the Highland games athlete who won the Hammer
at the Olympics. But Jay would never have had the patience. Two days to
film a minute's action wasn't his way. Had he taken that part I'm sure
they wouldn't have reached 'scene one, take twenty' before he was
wrapping the camera round the producer's neck and looking for somewhere
exotic to stick the clapper-board.
In the late 1950s an athlete just back from the Olympics where he had
represented the United States, entered the high jump at Tobermory Games.
Jay won. He jumped six feet three and three-quarter inches - no great
shakes today. But Jay did that from grass to grass; no tartan run-up and
no soft cushion to land on. And he used the old fashioned ''scissors''
style where you cross the bar in a sitting position and so lose as much
a foot in height.
But what really makes Jay's achievement so wonderful is that he not only
beat this specialist high jumper at his own game but did so while taking
prizes in the 100 yards and the 220 yards races, the long jump, hop-step
and jump, and pole vault as well as all seven of the heavyweight events.
Indeed between jumps he put on his kilt to keep his turn in throwing the
There were those in the mainstream of Scottish Athletics who doubted the
stories of Jay's prowess but they got their proof. A secret contest was
arranged between Jay and the best decathlete at the time. We were
worried that our man might be beaten as he had never thrown a discus or
run a race further than 440 yards.
We needn't have worried. He was so far ahead after eight events that Jay
was able to go home victorious without running the mile or throwing the
His achievements went on and on. He was favourite to win the Poderhall
sprint one year and that he didn't was typical of Jay's rash
determination. He just couldn't hold himself back for the big one as his
backers wanted him to and he won a big race at Newtongrange. That cut
his handicap and he came second at Powderhall.
I will remember Jay Scott best for his performances at the Aboyne Games.
The Chieftain's trophy there is awarded to the best athlete to take at
least one prize in the heavyweight and the light events. Jay won that
blue riband seven times on the trot.
Jay never patronised an opponent. He never beat you when he could give
you a right doing. For, like all great athletes, he had that bit of
swagger. The story has been told, retold and exaggerated out of all
proportion, but Jay did like to be reminded of the day when he arrived
late at Taynuilt Games. They were just finishing the high jump. The bar
stood at the winning height and the winner was claiming his prize. Our
hero ran onto the field. He was entering and would attempt a clearance.
The officials would have none of it.
He was overruled, but just to show them, without any warm-up or removing
his kilt or jacket, or changing his brogues for jumping shoes, he strode
angrily up to the bar sailed over.
Jay thrilled the crowds wherever he appeared but never more so than at
his very first games. At the age of not very much he was to run in the
100 yards at Luss Highland Games on the Banks of Loch Lomond.
The youth removed his kilt only to find that in his excitement he had
forgotten to put on his shorts. For the first of countless times the
young farmer from Inchmurrin got the cheer of the day.
Sadly, perhaps inevitably, Jay was slowed to mortal speed by a knee
injury when he was at his peak as a heavyweight athlete. And then when
he was in his mid-forties, came the tractor accident after which life
was something a struggle for the man who had once moved like a panther.
Jay Scott was the best in the days when athletes looked athletic and
athleticism came from the hard work and play in the great outdoors
rather than from the gymnasium and the cabinet in the bathroom.
I'll miss him. I miss him already.