Accountant and rugby administrator
Born: February 14, 1945 Died: October 18, 2013
TOM Mitchell, who has died aged 68 after a long illness, was one of those rare people who managed to cross the boundary between Auchinleck and Cumnock and become well-thought-of in both of the permanently warring Ayrshire communities.
Strictly speaking, having been born in Catrine, Tom wasn't, as he was always referred to in Cumnock, "A Talbot B", but, raised in Auchinleck's Darsalloch Rows and educated at Auchinleck Primary School, he qualified for that title.
He was further educated at Cumnock Academy, where he overcame the lifelong handicap of a skin condition, terrible eczema, to forge a fine academic career and an equally stellar sporting one - he played scrum-half for the school First XV and captained the Cricket XI, before going on to study accountancy at Glasgow College of Commerce.
On passing his final exams, he forsook general practice for industrial accountancy, firstly with Scottish Stamping and Engineering in Ayr, then with Glenfield & Kennedy in Kilmarnock, before forming a long relationship with the small family-run Mauchline firm of D&W Miller Steels, rising to become a director.
His financial management skills were legendary, particularly through his own company - Mitchell Financial Services, which he ran from his home in the evenings. He looked after the "books" of many of the small one-man and family businesses in the Cumnock and Doon Valley Area, while he was an expert in managing the financial affairs of the local bowling and social clubs in that part of Ayrshire.
His cricket career more or less ended when he left school, but he continued to play rugby, initially for Ayr, before joining the then fledgling Cumnock Rugby Club, where he was soon captaining the Second XV and looking after the finances as treasurer.
In 1969 he suddenly found himself thrust into the captaincy following the sudden death, in a car accident, of the incumbent, David Ancell - a man who had given new direction to the club when he arrived from Ayr.
Losing the charismatic Ancell was a huge blow for the club but worse was to follow as, within a season, an entire First XV either left the district or retired, leaving Tom to soldier on leading a very inexperienced side. The next few seasons were a struggle, but his hard work and cheerful indifference to reversals fostered a terrific team spirit.
He hung up his boots, but became a referee. His greatest service to Cumnock RFC was to come through his stewardship of the finances. Largely through his efforts, the club was able to purchase Broomfield farmhouse and convert it into one of the finest rugby club-houses in Scotland, while he also ensured that extensions and improvements would not endanger the club's survival. He eventually became president, before stepping down to become a respected elder statesman in Cumnock affairs.
He is survived by Barbara, his wife of 47 years, son Stuart, daughter Melanie and grandson Tom, as well as his mother and siblings Cathy, Jimmy, his one-time half-back partner for Cumnock, and John.
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