A renowned Dumbarton-based journalist, best known for his rugby and other sports reporting, has died after a battle with cancer, aged just 63.

David Kelso, pictured right, was also the court reporter for the local and national newspapers at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in Church Street.

He was a godsend to editors like me – and that’s nearly every editor in Scotland – whose staff had been depleted by management cuts and cruelly thrown on the newspaper scrapheap.

However, when the future looked bleak, Kelso turned his prolific hand and mind to reporting the courts, and when newspapers became tight with their cash, he joined the tourism industry and launched the successful Darven Cottage Bed and Breakfast business on the island of Arran.

His flare for ideas extended to his kitchen at Darven Cottage and the cuisine there, you could hardly call it cooking, was superb, as was his all round warm hospitality for his guests.

He established himself as the country’s leading freelance rugby correspondent with his work featured in The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday among others.

Kelso attended school at Jordanhill College in Glasgow and found work as a trainee in the local Clydebank Press newspaper in the 1970s, where he covered the early 1970s drama of the closure of John Brown’s shipyard and the launch of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

One of his best contacts in the yard, he told me, was the yard chaplain, Monsignor Jimmy McShane, of St Margaret’s Church in Whitecrook, with whom he enjoyed many a good lunch at the chapel house.

David went on to work at the Daily Record as a sub-editor before being head-hunted by the paper’s rival, the Scottish Sun, having risen through the ranks.

David returned to reporting freelance and was often seen covering crime at Dumbarton Sheriff Court, where he was the reporter with a nose for a good a story who regularly made the national news headlines.

Bill Heaney knew a good reporter when he saw one and invited David to work from the Lennox Herald office at 2B High Street, and make use of a desk, telephones the lot, in return for supplying a service from the courts.

“It was one of the best pieces of bartering I ever did for the paper,” Heaney said later.

“To have initially landed Ian Sharp, one of the best court reporters in the country, for the Lennox and then top that off by bringing David Kelso in was a feat I am extremely proud of.

“The Lennox was recognised as one of the top ten weekly newspapers in Scotland in the Press Awards at that time.”

Kelso founded Cricket Media Scotland with a fellow freelancer, creating the first agency dedicated to covering international and domestic cricket in the country.

Having spent most of his life in Glasgow, he moved to Arran where he ran the Darven Cottage B&B and spent time walking his beloved dogs and continuing to write freelance.

He was keen photographer – he learned that skill in Arran and soon was taking magazine quality pictures of the passing pageant of ships on the Clyde.

He boosted Arran’s tourism trade by sharing hundreds of beautiful images of the island and surrounding areas on social media.

David was diagnosed with cancer but did not stop his journalism. Spending much of his time being treated in Ayr Hospital, he kept friends updated on social media by documenting his stays.
Last time I was in touch with him, he was in Ayr Hospital where he said the cleaners kept him entertained with their stories and round-the-clock jokes.

The Scotsman reported that David filed his final story from a hospital bed on October 30, but became too ill to carry on and died four days later.

“At times he had an uncomfortable relationship with cricket and rugby admins. Fact was, they were lucky to have him. Another good man gone too soon.”

A man after my own heart on that score, on the premise that news is something someone somewhere doesn’t wish to see printed and the rest is merely advertising, we never fell out about anything he wrote.

Alasdair Reid , sports journalist at The Times, said: “Sad to hear of the passing of long-time rugby writer David Kelso.

“Spinner of fabulous headlines and hilarious one-liners  – and consumer of the hottest curries known to man.”

Former Edinburgh Evening News rugby correspondent Bill Lothian said: “Deeply saddened to learn of the passing this morning of David Kelso, journalist colleague.

“A time for remembering fun times on rugby tours and press box banter.”

He is survived by partner Carol and sons Roddy and Duncan, of whom he was very proud.

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