A HELENSBURGH man who rose to the top of the regional newspaper industry recently celebrated a poignant anniversary.
It is just over 25 years since Iain D.McAulay received a kidney transplanted from his brother Archie, and it is still keeping him alive and well.
Iain, now 71 and living in Poulton, Chester, said: “My dear brother passed away in 1995 after a cardiac problem which had nothing to do with the transplant.
“So, while Archie has passed away, his kidney keeps on working almost 10 years after his death — thank goodness!”
Iain and Archie were born in Helensburgh as was their mother Margaret, who now lives in the North Wales seaside town of Llandudno, recently celebrated her 93rd birthday, and still reads the Advertiser every week.
Archie emigrated to Canada in his early twenties. Iain moved all around the United Kingdom working for Thomson Regional Newspapers.
He was deputy MD of The Scotsman Publications in Edinburgh, then moved to Newcastle, Reading, and the London headquarters.
“I took ill with kidney failure in 1989 while in Reading, and desperately needed a kidney transplant,” Iain said.
“My mother called Archie, then in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and he was on the next plane to the UK to give me one of his kidneys, no questions asked!
“I had not seen Archie for 17 years. We met up at Heathrow Airport and the transplant went ahead successfully at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
“Of course it is always easier for the recipient than the donor, and Archie did not have an easy time. Fortunately, as he was only a year older than me, the match was pretty good.”
He added: “Archie’s generosity was a wonderful gift to me, and after 25 years I think it may be of interest to some of his chums in Helensburgh.”
Archie was born in 1942 and married Ulla Johansen, a Danish au pair who worked in Helensburgh.
They emigrated to Canada in 1967, and initially settled in Calgary, then moved to Vancouver Island.
Later the couple divorced, and he remarried, but died suddenly in 1995 in Victoria, British Columbia.
He is survived by his sons Rhuari and Craig, who both live on Vancouver Island.
The story of Iain’s career in printing and newspapers is fascinating.
A Hermitage pupil, he left at the age of 15 to start a six-year apprenticeship in Edinburgh with William Thyne Ltd., designers, printers and packaging manufacturers.
Initially trained as a photogravure and letterpress printer he gained the City and Guilds bronze and silver medals in 1962 and 1963 — the top awards in the UK and Commonwealth for Letterpress Printing.
After his apprenticeship he joined John Laird & Sons Ltd., a large packaging company in Glasgow, to train in industrial engineering, better known as work study.
In 1969 Iain joined the Thomson Organisation at The Scotsman in North Bridge, Edinburgh, initially as a work study officer.
Next he moved into production management, finally leaving The Scotsman in 1971 after being promoted to the TRN HQ in Grays Inn Road in London as assistant to the production director.
Iain and his wife Sandra, from Balloch, moved back to Scotland with their young son and daughter for family reasons, and he worked for three years as general manager of Avery Labels in their Cumbernauld plant which printed self-adhesive labels.
Next he went to Sir Hugh Fraser’s SUITS group at its Whiteinch plant which specialised in whisky labels.
He said: “One wet November day I had a call from the production director of Thomson Regional asking if I would be interested in returning to Thomson’s.
“I was delighted with this possibility as I enjoyed the rigours of newspaper publishing and the associated issues with militant trade unions — rife in the 70’s.”
In 1979 he was appointed assistant MD at the Newcastle Chronicle & Journal in the Groat Market in Newcastle upon Tyne, a large and highly successful business with three main newspapers employing around 1,300 staff.
“There about 16 different trade unions, and I spent much time negotiating with them, attempting to minimise disruption which was all too frequent.”
He was asked to rejoin Scotsman Publications in Edinburgh, initially as assistant MD, then deputy MD.
In 1986 he was appointed to his first managing director post at Thames Valley Newspapers in Reading, Berkshire, part of the Thomson Group, and it was at this point that he experienced kidney failure and had the transplant.
After the successful operation Iain moved to the newly constructed group known as Thomson Free Newspapers as operations director of a number of newly acquired free newspapers in Luton, Northampton, Derby, and elsewhere in middle England.
When the Labour Government took office in 1997, Lord Thomson decided he had had enough of newspapers and UK trade unions, and sold the whole of TRN to a variety of companies, including Trinity Mirror, the Barclay Brothers and Northcliffe Newspapers.
Iain decided to leave, and joined North Wales Newspapers — a family business with a range of local weekly and daily evening papers — in Mold as MD.
In 1998 he decided to reduce his workload and became self-employed as a consultant, joining the then Associated Newspapers in Kensington, London, where he worked for almost ten years.
He was involved in a variety of projects including the publishing of the Metro newspaper in London and throughout the UK. He also worked as a mentor for the then Welsh Development Agency helping small companies improve their performance.
His last position before retirement was as non-executive chairman of Bedfords Transport in Yorkshire, the company that holds the contract for distribution of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. He retired from all his directorships last December.
A past chairman and director of Chester & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, he is a member of the Caledonian Club in London and past president of the Chester Caledonian Association.
A lover of Burns, a keen Porsche 911 enthusiast, painter in oils and gardener, he remains very active in his retirement at his home which he named Ardencaple.