News of Fergus

On another blog I used to have, I wrote about my brother Fergus, who went missing in Switzerland on 9 September 2014 (you can read the post here).

He was due to attend a work conference with colleagues in the Swiss town of Martigny, and although he arrived in Geneva and bought a train ticket at the station there, he failed to turn up to dinner in Martigny that evening. He also failed to appear at the conference the following day, and had not checked in to his accommodation.

Nothing has been heard from him since 9 September 2104 and we’ve been left wondering what happened to him on that day. Searches were undertaken in the area in which he was believed to have disappeared, but nothing was found.

Earlier this year, someone out walking on a forested hillside beneath steep cliffs in an area just outside Martigny came across some bones and a passport. The passport was in Fergus’s name. The Swiss police contacted their Scottish counterparts, who gave us the news, but said they were unable to confirm that the bones belonged to Fergus until DNA testing had been carried out. The testing took several weeks, and although we were convinced the bones were Fergus’s, it wasn’t until a few days ago that we received confirmation.

There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, and the cause remains unexplained. The two obvious solutions are that he met with an accident on the cliffs, or that he took his own life. He had a history of depression and had attempted to take his own life once before, in similar terrain in Scotland, but had been unable to go through with it. My dad believes that in Switzerland he faced the same situation, but this time achieved a different outcome. My mum prefers to believe it to have been an accident. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what actually happened that day.

We’ve decided against having a traditional funeral for Fergus, and intend to have some kind of memorial in Scotland that would reflect his interests and values. He was a passionate supporter of environmental issues and an active member of the Scottish Green Party. He was also a very keen croquet player, and was involved for many years with the Scottish Croquet Association. They have set up a trophy in his name, known as the Fergus McInnes Tankard, to be awarded annually for completion of a ‘triple peel’, a particularly tricky croquet achievement.

Although it’s very sad to have definite news of his death, it’s a great relief to have some sort of closure. Some families of missing people never get this sort of confirmation, and I was more or less convinced we’d remain in that category. We still don’t have all the answers, but we’re fortunate to have the knowledge we’ve got. Being in this position allows us to obtain a death certificate and finally take care of his affairs.

My dad is working on a booklet about Fergus, which he hopes to publish in due course. Fergus himself was a very thoughtful and creative person, and enjoyed expressing himself through writing. He kept an online blog of sorts, which is kindly still hosted by the University of Edinburgh where he worked. He called it his ‘brain online’ and it contains many short articles on topics that interested him. I like what he wrote about Being Scottish, and I’ve included the link in case it interests any readers of this blog.


18 thoughts on “News of Fergus

  1. So sorry to hear this but of course, it is good to have closure. I was just thinking about your brother the other day and wondering what had happened. Sending hugs to you and your family.


  2. Closure must certainly bring some relief and, like Darlene, I have thought about Fergus at times and wondered if closure would ever happen. I did read his very well written and articulate article on “Being Scottish”. He obviously was a very talented man with many interests and concerns. Best thoughts are with you, your lovely parents and entire family. Thank you for sharing this news.


  3. Lorna, I offer my sincere sympathy to you and your family. I did not know about this. What a terrible thing to have to go through. I am glad you have found closure, despite it not being the ending you had hoped for. Thank you for sharing the link to your brother’s writing.


  4. Your brother’s writings are very interesting. There’s a unique perspective at work there which is readily apparent from the moment I started clicking around. I’m looking forward to reading more of his thoughts at length. Sorry for your loss. Take care.


  5. I hope that this will bring some kind of comfort for you and your family, Lorna – it has been a long time coming but at least you have some more knowledge now and perhaps can start to come to terms with it in your minds. I send heartfelt wishes to you all, and thank you for sharing the news.


  6. Dear Lorna, I have been wondering and hoping about your brother since I first read your blog. I am glad that you finally know , but I am so sorry that he passed away. It must be very hard for you and your family. Please know that we readers are sincere in our condolences. May he rest in peace and may you be comforted in knowing that we are thinking of you and praying for you/


  7. Hello Lorna, it was a dreadful thing that happened to your brother, and to your family, but I’m really glad for you that you eventually found out what happened and hopefully you’re now able to move on. Best wishes. Finn


    1. Thank you, Finn. It is a blessing to have found out and, as you say, it allows us to move on. All this time our hands have been tied in terms of dealing with Fergus’s affairs, but now we can at least act on his behalf.


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