Obituary: Duncan Forbes Hogg 20th July 1988 – 30th October 2008

TRIBUTES have been paid this week to young undergraduate Duncan Hogg, the son of highly-respected teachers Forbes and Heather Hogg, who has died suddenly from a diabetes-related condition.

Duncan, 20, had been studying at Edinburgh University, where he was also president of the Swing Dance Society. His family have asked for donations to be made to Diabetes UK. At the request of the Shetland Times, they provided the following account of his life.

Duncan Hogg was born in Lerwick in 1988, the first child of Forbes and Heather, originally from Lanarkshire. Ramsay and Lauren made the family complete by 1992.

Duncan was a pupil at Sound Primary in Lerwick, and loved reading – he had read the Chronicles of Narnia by the age of six and, a manic multi-tasker, would typically be reading two or three books simultaneously. He played for Lerwick Rangers from age of eight to 15.

At the age of 12 he went to Anderson High in Lerwick, and in 2000 was diagnosed as type one diabetic. Worrying though this was it didn’t stop him persuading the consultant at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to allow him to fly back home on Up-Helly-A’ morning to take his part in the junior Jarl squad that year.

With “sporty parents”, it was not surprising that he participated in lots of sports and activities. Duncan learned to swim and he trained hard for a year before moving onto squash and fencing – he loved the sabre and by the age of 15 had become Master at Arms in his local club. He competed in the Glasgow Fencing Open and won a treasured bronze medal.

As a senior pupil, Duncan was lucky enough to take part in trips abroad and his involvement in the “global classroom” took him at the age of 16 all the way to Towa Cho in Iwate province, north-east Japan – a very different world full of croaking frogs, chirping crickets and old ladies in conical hats bent over in paddy fields planting rice. He was entranced and developed a passion for the Far East that was never to leave him. He went to Japan twice with the school and had a huge enthusiasm for Japanese and Korean cuisine, films and books. Duncan wanted to study Japanese at university, but there were no suitable courses available in Scotland, so he decided to read Law at Edinburgh University.

He loved the city and the student lifestyle. But after a frustrating second year, he had recently changed the direction of his academic life, switching from Law to Japanese studies, and was really beginning to find his feet and enjoy his life and studies again, developing a growing circle of friends from all over the globe.

But university life wasn’t all hard work and no play. He was never really into popular contemporary music, but he liked old, interesting or unusual stuff, particularly blues, jazz, soul and big band stuff. Some of his favourite music was by Frank Sinatra, Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy and Duke Ellington.

He enjoyed all types of strategy and board games, role-playing games and computer games, and was part of a large group of friends who spent many happy hours playing them. At these times, he was notorious for inventive clues and names for characters, and for silencing friends with random Japanese words and phrases dropped into the con­versation.

His musical tastes made it kind of inevitable that he join the Edinburgh University Swing Dance Society, and he became its president last year – another way he continued to make many new friends, especially when acting as an ambassador for the society, and welcoming and helping to teach the dances to students from other countries.

Playful, polite and sociable, he went out of his way to make sure people were included. He had a very distinctive walk and style, and while he was in Edinburgh his style changed from basic leather jacket and jeans to a trademark goatee beard, long floppy hair and trilby hat, worn with a tweed jacket – in a look that could best be described as eclectic and bohemian.

In keeping with his love of Oriental film, he recently took a photo of a particular favourite Japanese actor to the hairdresser so he could have his hair cut the same way.

His sudden death – diabetes related – on 30th October came as a terrible shock to all of his family, friends and acquaintances.

A celebration of his life took place in his beloved Edinburgh, last Thursday, 6th November, and all of his family was gladdened to see how many of his young friends from Shetland and Edinburgh were able to attend his funeral.

Special mention should be made of the EUSDS (Edin Uni Swing Dance Soc) for the very moving but uplifting Book of Reminiscence – stories and photographs – they put together for the family, and for the joyful demonstration of swing dancing they put on for the guests after the funeral at the request of Lauren and Ramsay.

Edinburgh University has also been very kind and helpful, and the University chaplaincy service provided great comfort.

A collection taken at his funeral raised £375 for Diabetes UK.

The family would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, kind words, condolences, cards and flowers. Duncan didn’t really believe in all that “card stuff”, so if you wish to make a donation to Diabetes UK, we are sure that would have made him smile!

It’s clear that Duncan “Pops” Hogg will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, whether for 20 minutes or 20 years.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.