Tributes paid to popular Skye doctor David Sime

Tributes have been paid this week to a popular Skye doctor whose work and voluntary efforts had a significant and positive impact on health care provision across Skye and Lochalsh.

Dr David Patterson Sime, a former partner at Portree Medical Centre, died peacefully at home on Wednesday 16th February, aged 79.

A graduate of Glasgow University, he worked as partner in a medical practice in Paisley, following his training, before moving to Skye in 1980 – where he had strong family connections.

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He joined Portree Medical Practice, which was responsible for the care of residents across a wide area including Trotternish, Raasay, and patients of Portree Community Hospital.

Commenting on the scope and importance of his work, Dr Charles Crichton, a fellow partner of Dr Sime’s during their time at Portree Medical Centre, told the Free Press: “He established himself as a thorough and thoughtful primary care physician, with shared medical responsibilities in general practice, A&E, and community hospital work. He was also the lead GP trainer in the practice for some years.

“He was instrumental in enabling significant developments in the Portree practice. Due to his competent management of the finances, the partnership was able to increase to four in 1984, and the trend continued such that when he retired fifteen years later, there were six partners. 

“There were no practice nurses or practice managers in Skye and Lochalsh when he arrived, but the locality’s first practice nurses began work with the Portree practice in 1985, the first practice manager began there in 1989, and that year the new Portree Medical Centre was opened.”

Underlining his crucial voluntary endeavours, Dr Crichton added: “He was also the first chairperson of the Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association (Am Fasgadh) and helped to foster the vital work of community care for people with long-term mental health problems – along with others, he developed ‘The Cabin’ in Portree, a precursor to Am Fasgadh

“After some time in the practice, he also took on the onerous work of senior administrative clinician for the Skye and Lochalsh practices and the Skye hospitals. This duty was in theory factored into his work schedule, but in practise entailed many extra hours of work and travelling, perhaps more than his colleagues realised.”

He added: “He saw retirement as simply an opportunity to continue his public service in areas that he had some familiarity with, training further as a counsellor, working with the Citizens Advice Bureau, and with the Drugs and Alcohol Forum.

“He richly deserved his later achievement of becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.”

Portree resident Tim Moore, who was a friend of Dr Sime’s for more than 30 years told the Free Press: “We first met in 1988 when he and Jan sold us our home.

“I always enjoyed his company and we shared several interests, including when the Portree Sailing Club was formed in 1991 – and with a fellow coastguard colleague even once assisting him when his yacht could have grounded on the Black Rock in Loch Portree after breaking its mooring. He loved his sailing but hated having to seek assistance.

“He was the first RNLI voluntary doctor supporting the crew in its early years when Portree secured its first lifeboat in 1990 – a role he held for several years. Always interested in local History we were on the Portree Local History Society Committee together for many years.”

Touching on the sense of loss, he added: “Often reflective and quietly spoken, he was a man who helped many local organisations and like many I will miss him.”

David was a devoted husband of Jan, adored father of Iain, Andrew, Kate and Fiona, and much-loved grandpa of Ollie, Ruaridh, Finlay, Robbie, Esme, Evan, Lily, Ceitlin and Tamsin.

A funeral service was held on Thursday 24th February at the Church of Scotland in Portree.

Donations can be made to the RNLI in memory of David by clicking here.

Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.