Iain Guthrie - A tribute
Iain Guthrie was a much-loved pupil at TNS.
Like many others, he was vulnerable and unable to manage in mainstream education.
Staff describe him as “funny”, “quirky”, and “a bit of a wind-up merchant”.
During his time at the school, he made extraordinary progress, from being frightened to go out alone to developing an almost insatiable appetite for travel. If ever a young person demonstrated what TNS could do for pupils with autism, it was Iain.
Iain moved from being a residential to a day pupil at his own request but later regretted that decision and asked to return to school where his friends were. Perth & Kinross Council refused to allow that, stating that, “this bridge has been burnt”. He finally left TNS still resentful of that decision.
Perth & Kinross Council placed Iain at Wellbank House, a hostel for young homeless people but not a specialist service for those with autism. He attended college but complained of being exploited by fellow students and the other residents of Wellbank who coerced him into buying cigarettes and alcohol for them because he was older.
Iain did not feel supported under the care of Perth & Kinross Council. He was lonely and returned quite regularly to TNS where he helped Colin in the kitchen. Despite having left the school, he was still part of the TNS community where he felt safe. He yearned for independence but struggled to cope with the social demands that this involved, and would often say that he wished that he had grown-up in the 1950’s when, “people had a better set of morals”.
On 19th December 2016, following a series of hostile text messages from fellow students, Iain jumped from Perth Bridge into the River Tay.
His body was found on 25th February 2017, two days after what would have been his 21st birthday.
Iain’s death had a profound impact on the TNS community and there are those who still grieve for him today. His key worker spent many hours searching for Iain’s body and established a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his funeral costs. He continues to provide support to Iain’s mother.
We remember Iain, not for the tragedy of his death, but what he brought to the community in life.
He reminds us that everyone at TNS was valued for being who they were, not what we wanted them to become. That diagnostic labels are less important than personalities, and that the community that we were, was greater than the sum of its parts.
He also reminds us that we as staff learnt so much from the young people we supported and that they enriched our own lives.
Rest in Peace.