Rail expert, business strategist and marketing consultant
Born May 25 1951: Died June 12 2011
James Archibald King, who has died aged 60, was best known as the Scottish voice of rail passengers. As the Scottish board member of the national body Passenger Focus, he frequently appeared on television, radio and in the press delivering authoritative comment and cogent analysis of all issues relating to Scotland’s railways, a subject close to his heart.
Despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, he was reappointed to this post for a second term. This was a tribute to his success and effectiveness in continually pushing for better services and facilities for rail travellers and gave him immense satisfaction. (ScotRail bosses may miss his early morning calls from North Berwick station when Mr King arrived to find his regular service to Waverley was not running on schedule.) Part of his responsibilities included membership of the British Transport Police Authority.
He grew up in Lasswade, the son of John Howard King, of the family’s Edinburgh-based brewery Campbell, Hope & King and Margaret Whyte Bannatyne, the daughter of a Tighnabruaich boatbuilder. Educated at Lasswade Primary and Melville College, he obtained a BA in economics and marketing from Strathclyde University before heading to London in 1972 for the bright lights of the advertising industry.
After seven years working on accounts such as the British Army, British Caledonian and Volvo, he returned to Scotland as business development director at Hall Advertising, later opening an Edinburgh office for the global agency Ogilvy & Mather.
After another spell in the south handling marketing and business development projects with business consultancies Oasis and Sybase and travelling extensively, he founded Marketing Principals International in 1996, working with a wide range of growth companies supported by Scottish Enterprise. During that time he also developed a marketing and branding strategy for the Falkland Islands, travelling to the South Atlantic several times.
His consuming passion remained the railways, and steam engines in particular. His was a familiar face on weekend steam excursions, and his house groaned with railway memorabilia. He was a Scottish Railway Preservation Society stalwart.
Highly focused and organised, he always believed in total professionalism. Warm and humorous, he was sparkling company and a loyal friend to a remarkably wide circle of people. Though his health was never robust – he survived two brain tumours in his 20s - he enjoyed a wide range of sporting interests including car rallying, sailing, skiing and shooting. He was also a connoisseur of fine wines and, having started a wine business while in London, still claims the UK record for the number of wine cases to be squeezed into a VW Golf: 32.
His first marriage, to Mandy Ferrand, ended in divorce. For the past 28 years he was married to Katharine (Katie) McCall, whom he met at Hall Advertising and who was the love of his life. Before moving to East Lothian, the Kings lived in Helensburgh and Edinburgh. Though they never had children of their own, James King was an enthusiastic godparent several times over and their home was never without at least two much-indulged cats.
Always a committed Christian, his faith steadily became more central and he was an elder at St Andrew Blackadder Church of Scotland in North Berwick. Even when diagnosed with his final illness, he faced this trial with characteristic fortitude and good humour, cheerfully pinging messages to all and sundry from his beloved Blackberry.
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