FRIENDS have paid tribute to the eccentric and inspirational former Sauchie Primary School and Lornshill Academy teacher Bob Edwards (86), who passed away at Stirling Royal Infirmary.

The son of renowned Cowdenbeath goalkeeper Dave Edwards, Bob spent some childhood years in America in the 1920s when his dad played for Bethlehem Steel FC.

On his return to Scotland in 1930 Bob began his cinema-going habit, encouraged by his mother who took him several times a week.

In the 1940s, Bob edited a unique series of hand written magazines containing film and theatre reviews and profiles of actors. He would write to Hollywood stars and began receiving letters from actors including Deanna Durbin, James Mason, Warner Baxter, Nelson Eddy and Laurence Olivier.

A graduate of St Andrews University, Bob then took up a teaching post in Clackmannanshire and encouraged his pupils to read well, listen to opera, travel, speak foreign languages and take part in drama.

Unfortunately his enthusiasm was not always well met with one previous headteacher denying his request to allow the players in Romeo and Juliet to grow their hair for authenticity.

In the 1960s, along with close friend Leo Tavendale, Bob organised the Deerpark Youth Theatre to give youngsters an outlet to present plays from the likes of Shakespeare, Isben and Marlowe.

Via the youth theatre, Leo and Bob chaperoned many trips abroad to the likes of France, Italy and Austria.

Leo said, "We wanted to give an experience and taste of another world. Back then it was very uncommon to go on holiday, but Bob strived for the children to be more rounded." Influenced by Bob's ambition and drive, several protégées found their acting curiosity kindled.

Sauchie's John Stahl went on to find fame within Take The High Road as Tom Kerr, and Maureen Beattie as Sandra Nicholl in Casualty.

Another significant friendship in Bob's life was formed in 2003. For over a year, director of Cadies Productions Ltd Robin Mitchell had attempted to trace those involved with his father, William Rollo Mitchell, in the filming of a 21-minute 8mm black and white during World War II.

The film 'And So Goodbye' was shot on Bob's camera. Robin managed to track him down via Scottish Roots Ancestral Research Company and was delighted to find the film had been transferred to DVD.

Organising a 60-year reunion for the surviving cast and crew, Robin got in contact with Scottish Screen and Scottish Television after which the story was turned into a 24-minute documentary for the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2004, broadcast on STV/Grampian thereafter.

Robin told the Advertiser, "I only knew Bob in his later years, but we packed a lot in to that time. "After 'And So Goodbye' we worked with Bob on 'Finding Bob McArthur' and most recently he narrated our documentary, 'William McLaren: An Artist Out Of Time'. It was sad hearing of his death. He was quite a character." A resident of Sauchie for more than 40 years, Bob will be fondly remembered as the man who loved his opera music.