Church of Scotland minister dies in hill walking accident

Tributes have been paid to a "kind and compassionate" minister who died while out hill walking in the Highlands.

Rev Johnny Paton, who led Kilninian and Kilmore linked with Salen, and Ulva linked with Tobermory linked with Torosay and Kinlochspelvie on the Isle of Mull, embarked on a solo expedition to An Teallach on Monday.

Johnny Paton
People from all walks of life have paid warm tribute to Rev Johnny Paton. Paton Family.

The 60-year-old was an experienced hill walker and set off to an area nicknamed the “Great Wilderness” at 1.30pm, estimating that his trip would take 7-8 hours.

When he failed to return to Ullapool where he was holidaying with his wife Cathy, she raised the alarm after she could not reach him.

Great sadness

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team and HM Coastguard launched a helicopter search of the mountain, which lies to the southwest of Dundonnell and overlooks Little Loch Broom, at 5am this morning and found a body at 8.45am.

Stewart Shaw, clerk to the Presbytery of Argyll, said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a distinguished minister and kindly friend, Rev Johnny Paton.

“We extend our sympathies and condolences to his wife, Cathy and his family.

“We hold them and his congregations in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic time.”

Mr Paton, who was a “Munro bagger”, took up his post on the Isle of Mull in 2013 and held a variety of positions within the Presbytery of Argyll.

John Paton
Tobermory - one of the places on the Isle of Mull where Rev Johnny Paton was minister.

He studied alongside Rt Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly, at New College in Edinburgh.

She said: "I am so sorry to hear of Johnny's death and Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, convener of the World Mission Council, who is with me in Rome joins me in offering our sympathy and our prayers, to his wife Cathy, his family and friends and to his church family in the north of Mull.

"I have fond memories of Johnny from our days at New College.

"A man always quick to smile.

“So kind, compassionate and quietly diligent and faithful."

God's blessing

Craig Renton, depute secretary of the Ministries Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Rev Johnny Paton.

“We are grateful for his ministry and pray God’s blessing and light be upon his family, friends and congregation during these difficult days.”

Rev Dr Roderick Campbell, Moderator of the Presbytery of Argyll, will conduct worship at Salen Church on Sunday at 11am.

He will pay tribute to Mr Paton and offer support to his family, friends and the congregation.