Sandy Neilson, who has died aged 65, achieved much success both in his business life and as an all-round sportsman.
Born and brought up in Glasgow, he was educated at Hyndland Primary School and at the High School of Glasgow, where his sporting prowess soon became obvious. He won school championships at table tennis and tennis –as part of the school team that won the Scottish Schools cup – and played rugby for the first XV for three years (in the last year of which he played for Glasgow Schools and was reserve for the London Scottish Schoolboys team in the annual new year's day fixture against their English counterparts).
After leaving school, sport continued to play a major part in Sandy's life; his outstanding kicking ability made him the ideal choice to play outside half for the successful Glasgow High School FP rugby team of that era (his kicking from hand was formidable, and in one match he kicked two drop goals, one with each foot, thereby securing victory). In the summer months he played first-team tennis for Dowanhill tennis club.
However, in his mid 20s he was to discover a serious interest and ability for golf, and for the rest of his life this was to be his main (some may say all-consuming) passion. Given his natural ball-playing skills, his handicap was soon reduced to one – a level he maintained throughout the remainder of his playing career, and which led to representative golf for Glasgow County. He won the Newtonmore club championship twice, the Inverness County championship and the Arran Open Golf championship (a test of endurance indeed) on three occasions.
In addition to his membership of Newtonmore – where he formerly held the course record – and Kingussie golf clubs, he was a life member of the Glasgow golf club (contesting four championship finals), Prestwick Golf Club, the "32" club (where he served as secretary for some years and was captain in 1999), and the British seniors Golfing Society.
He was also to represent the Glasgow High School FP golf club for many years, most notably in the Queen Elizabeth Coronation Schools tournament at the Royal Burgess club in Edinburgh, with High School winning that prestigious event on five occasions during the years of Sandy's participation.
Important as sport was to him, there were other aspects to Sandy Neilson that contributed to a full and rich life: a successful business career and his married life with Kirsty and their children Lindsey and Colin.
On leaving school in 1966, Sandy joined the firm of Stenhouse Insurance in Glasgow under the mentorship of the late Brian Gibson, and after an apprenticeship of some five years he moved to Clydesdale Bank Insurance Services, where he remained for 21 years and during which period he rose to the position of general manager in 1988. In 1992, Sandy was appointed managing director of Origo, an Edinburgh-based fledgling organisation set up to provide e-commerce standards and services for the UK financial services industry. Having guided Origo from infancy to adulthood, and achieved much for the company and for himself, Sandy took early retirement in 2003. After a brief spell with the Scottish Golf Union, his business acumen, coupled with his love of Newtonmore (where he and Kirsty were spending more time each year) inspired his appointment in 2007 as non-executive chairman of local timber company Russwood. At their house "Clutha", Neilson hospitality and laughter round the dinner table were always in abundance. He remained active in his role at Russwood until ill health overtook him earlier this year.
Romance for Sandy started in 1966 when Kirsty Wapshaw was on holiday on Arran. The rafters of the bar in the Kinloch Hotel were ringing to a lusty rendition of "the Wild Rover" performed by a group of choristers and Kirsty was particularly taken with one of the group – Sandy – showing characteristic revelry that was to play a significant part throughout his life. Sandy and Kirsty were married in 1972 and remained happily so until Sandy's death in May. He is survived by Kirsty, son Colin, daughter Lindsey and her husband Charlie, and two-year-old grandson Roddy.
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