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Bill Forsyth

Accountant and community volunteer;

Born: August 30, 1919; Died: October 30, 2012.

Bill Forsyth, who has died aged 93, combined his business life of management accountancy with family life that widened into volunteer work for his community.

He and his wife Audrey formed a formidable pairing in family guidance counselling, with their teamwork and 61-year marriage providing a solid example of how couples could successfully work together. More than a few couples had success in rebuilding their lives after counselling sessions with the Forsyths.

Amiable and able, with a ready smile and readier wit, the inner steel that was the Forsyth trademark was forged with Audrey. The pair met in her home town of Banchory in 1942 when the 23-year-old soldier from Kilmarnock – enlisted in his local Ayrshire regiment of the Royal Scots Fusiliers – was posted to the Kincardineshire town. He never returned south, and embraced life in north-east Scotland.

One of his first involvements locally was when he fought against the closure of the Deeside railway line during the Beeching cuts in 1966. Four years later, he headed a very different closure. Aberdeen Journals Ltd, publishers of the Press & Journal and Evening Express, moved from their city-centre premises to an industrial estate four miles away and he was in charge of the financial planning. His three-year project within the management team ensured the P&J and Evening Express moved without a single edition being lost or curtailed. It proved a matter of personal pride to him that every member of the 600 staff was paid on time the following week.

William Pollock Forsyth enjoyed an early introduction to newspapers. Born and educated in Kilmarnock, and with a lifetime interest in cinema, he wrote a weekly film column under the name of Gregor Graham for the long-defunct Kilmarnock Herald.

Encouraged by his parents, he took up an accountancy apprenticeship with a local company. Within two weeks of the outbreak of the Second World War he had joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers, seeing service in the Netherlands. Active in his regimental association, he annually returned to see Dutch friends first met during wartime in 1944, right up to the 65th and final anniversary reunion in 2009.

After the war, he and Audrey, née Gerrie, settled in Aberdeen, Mr Forsyth's adopted city for the rest of his long life. From his office at the cumbersomely numbered 41½ Union Street, he created a reputation for business development, particularly in agricultural accounts.

He came to the attention in 1959 of William Pattillo, assistant managing director of what was then Kemsley Newspapers in Aberdeen. He was headhunted, taking up as a management accountant the month before the P&J and Evening Express were bought over by Canadian press magnate Roy Thomson.

Always physically active, when not playing at Deeside Golf Club, he and Audrey tackled the Cairngorms. Even in late life the pair were still out, though by now restricted to lower walks round Loch Muick. In later years he acted as a practice patient and as a volunteer guide at the Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Unusually for an accountant, Mr Forsyth was a popular figure with the journalists whose expenses he signed off. At the annual lunch for retired journalists of Aberdeen Journals, he was one of only two non-editorial guests, a much-liked figure in his Forsyth tartan trews.

He was predeceased by his wife Audrey in 2005, and is survived by his daughters Moira and Dorothy, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

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