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Eric McKellar Watt A Glasgow businessman who returned from the war to set up Britain's largest privately-owned meat-processing company

Eric McKellar Watt, who has died at the age of 81, started making sausages in a tiny shop in Parliamentary Road, Glasgow, with a mixing bowl he said had been discarded by Barlinnie Prison kitchen, and went on to build Britain's largest privately-owned meat manufacturing company. His slogan, ''McKellar Watt for Meatiness'', became well-known throughout the country. When he retired in 1985 his company employed more than 600 people and is still thriving, although under different ownership. In 1983 he was awarded an OBE in recognition of his business achievements. Eric was born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow Academy and Strathallan School, Perthshire, where he distinguished himself as a rugby and tennis player and developed a love of fishing which stayed with him for the rest of his life. Many years after leaving Strathallan he became a governor of the school. In 1939, at the age of 19, he defied his father, volunteered for the army before conscription was introduced, and took up a commission as a captain in the Royal Army Service Corps. He saw active service in Montgomery's Eighth Army in North Africa, and in Palestine and Greece, where, in 1942, he and his patrol were caught up in sniper fire. Eric suffered severe head injuries and gunshot wounds to his legs. His men thought he was dead but someone saw movement in one arm and emergency treatment saved his life. He spent 18 months in an army hospital in Killearn, Stirlingshire, having his body rebuilt and learning to walk again. A woman doctor told him he would never drive a car again, so, a week later, he persuaded his friend Ramsay Steven to bring a car to the hospital and Eric drove it round the compound. As he drove past the doctor she gave him the thumbs-up sign. In the years that followed he clocked up hundreds of thousands of miles behind the wheels of several Rovers, two Bentleys, a Rolls-Royce, and three Mercedes. The day he came home on sick leave from the army hospital, both legs were in plaster from hip to toe. The transport arrangements the army had made to get him home from the railway station seemed to him too slow and ponderous so he tipped a porter to get him a battery-operated luggage truck, which he clambered on to and drove along the long, crowded platform to a taxi rank. One of the first things he did when he started McKellar Watt Limited during the difficult time of food rationing, was buy a semi-automatic Lanchester in which he drove himself around local butchers to sell his sausages. Before he got the car he had difficulty in getting round the city because of his wounds, so he developed the habit of stopping tramcars by standing in their path. When the driver stopped he clambered aboard, explained he had a bad leg, and rode on the driving platform until he reached his destination. Eric founded his business with his disability allowance. He also changed his name from Alexander, which he had been christened, to Eric, to avoid being confused with his father who was also in the meat business. He inspired everyone who worked for him, says Murray Ward, his former managing director, and made them perform better than they ever thought they could. His generosity was legendary. On one occasion Ward was summoned to Eric's office to receive a Christmas gift which he expected would be a bottle of whisky or a piece of glassware. ''Instead, he handed me the keys of a new Ford Consul,'' says Ward. ''That was only one example of his many acts of generosity to his staff. I was also very grateful to him for the business training I received from him.'' Eric had received his own training from his father, a well-known Glasgow butcher. When Eric did something of which his father didn't approve, he took Eric into a large refrigerator room to tell him off, rather than embarrass him in front of other employees. Eric laughed heartily when I once wrote of him: ''Beneath the tough, unyielding exterior of Eric McKellar Watt beats an even tougher, unyielding interior. Other men known for their strength, poise, and confidence have emerged from sessions with Eric McKellar Watt, white, trembling, and sapped of all vitality. Ena Simons, his secretary regularly dispenses hot black coffee to the victims as they reel out of his line of fire.'' I did, however, go on to extol his skills as a businessman, his generosity and loyalty as an employer, and his devotion as a family man. Eric was an active member of the Black Loch and Balagiech angling clubs. He said fishing helped him cope with the challenges of a taxing business life. On one outing, Murray Ward caught a large salmon and, in order not to be outclassed, Eric waded into the middle of the River Tweed, got frozen, and spent some days in bed. His greatest pleasure was in beating whatever system conspired to make life difficult for him. He wasn't always dealt the best cards in life but he overcame the obstacles every time. He was always willing to try something new. Once, he experimented with whisky-flavoured sausages which, hardly surprisingly, were not a great success. With a wry smile he told me later, ''Lets face it. Who wants to drink their whisky out of a sausage!'' In 1954 Eric met his ''English rose'', Patricia Ellis, while on holiday in Devon. They were married the following year and they recently celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. Eric is survived by Patricia, daughters Diana and Carole, and son David.

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