John Colls 1944-2013

John passed away in the early hours of this morning, at Caritas Christi hospice in Melbourne. He took a turn for the worse on Tuesday night, and up until then he had been alert and lucid. John's recent book about the history of the Scottish 6 Days, "A Few Surplus Maps" demonstrated his passion for orienteering in Scotland, his enthusiasm will be missed.

Only 7 weeks ago John emailed friends with news of his condition, and this is copied below. You can leave your own tributes and read others over on the SOA website via the comments option.

Hi folks,

An email so that you hear from the horse's mouth what will otherwise likely soon run around as rumour when info provided so far mainly to family starts to percolate into the O-community, as it could in both Edinburgh and Inverness.

Early last month my health suddenly deteriorated for no apparent reason and I ended up in hospital in Melbourne a few days after Sheila and I had returned here from Scotland. The quacks quickly identified the problem (kidney failure) and popped me on dialysis to keep me going whilst they tried to work out the cause.

That cause is now known. Apparently I have a rare condition called amyloidosis. In lay terms, it means that rogue antibodies (a cancer by another name) are creating proteins that are insoluble instead of soluble. Thus, instead of the proteins flushing smoothly through the various organs on their way round the body, they are instead leaving deposits and these are adversely affecting the performance of the organ in question.

In my case, the rogue antibodies have irreversibly wrecked my kidneys and it is 99% certain that they were also responsible for 'out of the blue' heart problems that were identified and treated back in May but whose cause had remained a mystery until now. They may also be damaging other organs elsewhere but without the fact showing up yet by way of symptoms.

The best case scenario from here is dialysis every second day (for c4hrs each time) indefinitely into the future - not an ideal position to be in, but one whose implications I have come to terms with during the past few weeks. I don't wish to be a merchant of doom and gloom, so will leave it there meantime. May you run in sunlit forests!

Best wishes


12th Dec 2013