A WEE County man who rose from a railway booking clerk at Alloa station to an advisor to the World Bank and the EU has sadly passed away last month.

Inspired by the great Scottish explorers, William Cunningham travelled the world as he climbed the career ladder – taking the first steps in Clackmannanshire.

Known to most as Bill, he was originally born in Dunfermline, but soon moved to Alloa where he studied at Sunnyside Primary and the town's academy, living on Hill and Bank Streets with father Andy, mother Mary and brothers Drew as well as Allan.

His first job was a booking clerk at Alloa Railway Station, but National Service and the Pay Corps soon meant he moved to Edinburgh where he was stationed at the castle and where he met his late wife Jean.

Described as “complex” and “driven” in his early years by son Mark, one of three brothers along with William and Christopher, he always strived to better himself and completed a degree with the Open University while working in local government roles across Scotland.

Jean unfortunately passed away and Bill decided to move the family to Newcastle where he finished his masters degree and moved into teaching with the Civic Service College in Winchester and at the Co-operative College in Loughborough.

According to his son, the man's drive to gain skills and get as far as possible in life came from intellectual dad Andy, who wanted to become a doctor after half his school mates died to TB, but had to give up on a university scholarship halfway through in order to financially support his family as a young man during a though period of time.

Only spending two or three years in each position meant the children had to learn how to make friends at school fast, but for Mark, it also meant that his horizons grew ever wider.

When a job took Bill to Africa, he moved the family from Bo'ness to Livingstone in Zambia, named after the great doctor.

He took on the role of assistant town clerk and took part in a number of major projects.

One included teaching modern agriculture techniques to the inhabitants with son Mark, 55, reminiscing: “It was quite an important project and I think he was very proud of that because I remember him asking me if I would like to go out with him and have a look at what they were doing.”

Bill later went on to become associate professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and took on a role as an adviser to the World Bank and the EU, a role which saw him travel even more.

Mark said: “He freely admitted he was influenced by the great Scottish explorers whose diaries and biographies he had read as a child.

“And this is kind of part of the reason he was so keen to travel.”

Mark reckons that by the time his father retired, there were not many countries left in the world he had not visited and added: “But he still loved Scotland. He was proud to be Scottish his whole life. He may have been an expat, but he was a proud-proud Scot.”