Colin Atkinson, who has died suddenly aged 71, was one of the “generals” in that vast unpaid army who keep British sport at the top in so many disciplines.
He was born in Edinburgh, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, the second son of Edmund and Kathleen Atkinson. He, like brother Peter and sisters Kathleen and Margaret, attended Newton Mearns Primary School, before going to Glasgow Academy.
At Glasgow University, from where he graduated with a BSc in agriculture, he represented the university in swimming, before joining the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, rising to become principal agriculture officer within the Scottish Office. Prior to taking early retirement, he had forged a reputation as Scotland’s leading authority on the restoration of opencast coal sites. He continued his involvement in agriculture into retirement as a member of the Scottish Executive Appeals Committee.
Another lifelong association was with Glasgow Academical rugby club. He captained the Accies’ 1st XI in seasons 1974-75 and 1981-82, before leading the 2nd XI between 1990 and 2002; he was also president of the Glasgow Academical club in 1998-99 and had been chairman of the sports club since 2000.
But it was in badminton, which he first took up while at university, that Mr Atkinson made his major contribution to Scottish sporting life. He was a good club-class player, particularly enjoying a spell in the Highland League around Inverness and Dingwall, while posted to the Highlands by the civil service.
Back in Glasgow, he gave sterling service to Langside & District Churches League in the late sixties to mid-seventies, as tournament convener, vice-president and president.
As a coach, he counselled and guided some of Scotland’s leading players. Three of his charges – Alison Fulton, Alex White and Kirsteen McEwan – all represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and in major competitions. He held the highest coaching qualifications, was an assessor of young coaches and was in steady demand as a tournament referee.
He gave great service to Badminton-Scotland, from the days when it was the Scottish Badminton Union and was vice-president from 1983-87 and president from 1987-89. He was also manager of the national team at the world championships in Beijing in 1987 and in Jakarta two years later, when Scotland finished 13th in the world and won its division in the Sudirman Cup.
At home, he had been deputy championship director at the Scottish International Championships since 1990. He filled the same role when the European junior and senior competitions were held in Glasgow in 1992, 1999 and 2000, and at 1997 and 2007 Sudirman Cup events, as well as being West of Scotland Badminton Group convener from 1999.
Mr Atkinson remained a senior member of Badminton-Scotland’s management team until his death. He implemented the concept of the Badminton Bonanza, which allowed players who were not club members to enjoy a competitive level of play at local sports centres.
His work as chairman of Badminton-Scotland’s finance committee since 2000 was particularly influential, and for several years he was coaching convener. On retiring, he became an unpaid, full-time badminton official.
But he also had other sporting interests. On putting away his cricketing whites, he turned to golf. He was a member of Eastwood Golf Club, where he was a past champion, while he played competitive golf with Boat of Garten in recent years. Mr Atkinson was also a regular participant in the Badminton Association’s Golfing Society events, and it was at one such meeting that he died.
For more than 25 years he was involved with the Glasgow Sports Council, being elected to the executive in 1998 and serving as vice-chairman and chairman. He served for six years during the 1990s as one of the governors of Glasgow Academy and was also on the board of the Scottish Independent Schools Council.
His service to others saw him presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Glasgow City Council, and a Volunteer Investment Programme award by the Scottish Sports Council. He was presented with the International Badminton Federation’s Meritorious Service Award in 1997 and, in 2009, his 25 years of service to Glasgow Sports Council were marked by the receipt of the 25-year Volunteer Service award.
He enjoyed music, gardening and country life. He was one of those whose work for the Forty Club Scotland has done so much to keep cricket flourishing, encouraging youngsters to take up and play the game in the correct spirit.
He and his wife, Moira, had celebrated 35 years of marriage shortly before his death.
He doted on their children, Michael and Hilary, who has followed her father into badminton and is one of the team organising the badminton tournament at the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics.
Paying tribute to his father, Michael Atkinson said: “There are those who take more than they give; my father was one of those unsung heroes who went quietly about the business of truly serving others. He was a quiet man, with a ready smile, a great sense of humour, sympathetic to others, based on an honest, logical and common-sense approach to life and work”.
Civil servant and sports administrator;
Born June 17, 1939; Died September 13, 2010.