The Herald chief motoring writer and former supplements editor

Born: September 5, 1948

Died: October 14, 2018

Andrew Douglas MacKay, who has died after a short illness only a few weeks after his 70th birthday, was a towering figure in The Herald for almost three decades.

Born in Dumfries, his time at Laurieknowe Primary School produced a lifelong love of language. He had a passion for reading and rather than kicking a ball about at weekends he would head to the library, arriving home with a pile of books.

The librarian encouraged this enthusiasm and suggested titles to him, including a series that would remain a favourite into adulthood, Richmal Crompton’s Just William.

He did take his nose out of books during family holidays in Ayr with his parents and sister Morag, where as a young teenager a natural talent for golf emerged. His father supported this by buying a six iron and a few golf balls for Andrew’s birthday and introducing him to Dumfries & Galloway Golf Club.

Once again he gave it everything, practising the same shot repeatedly in the evenings and at weekends. It paid off, resulting in competition wins and playing off a three handicap.

Books and golf helped him get through his years at Dumfries High School, a time he described as “the worst years of his life”, but he did write his first review here, on Uniroyal golf balls.

His tenacity extended to affairs of the heart. When he met Theresa at a 21st birthday party, which he had gatecrashed, it was clear he would have to persevere. Eventually she succumbed to his quirky sense of humour and what she calls a “unique sense of style” and they married at Dunscore Parish Church in January 1971.

By this time Andrew was working as an apprentice compositor with the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, having eschewed his first notion of becoming a detective.

(The word ‘eschewed’ is used deliberately. He despised it, but after a shudder, he would definitely laugh at the cheek.)

The young couple moved to Glasgow soon after when he joined the Govan Press. Holiday cover at the Daily Express became a full-time job, before moving on to the then Glasgow Herald in 1975.

By 1977, the couple had three children and had settled in Paisley, Andrew now striding the fairways of Paisley Golf Club, having previously been a member of Fereneze while in Glasgow.

He was sent on a short journalism course, and moved up to the editorial floor, where his flair for language was well-used as a features sub-editor, before his promotion to Supplements Editor.

Big Andy, as his Herald colleagues knew him, never suffered fools at all, never mind gladly, (particularly lazy fools).

However, he supported those in genuine need, never shy of the “get your coat on, let’s talk about this outside the office” style of management.

Andrew worked hard during office hours but then the rangy figure in the anorak, well over six foot, would hurry away with a paper under his arm – nothing being allowed to intrude on family time.

However, he did enjoy golfing competition days with colleagues when he joined the West of Scotland Alliance.

He was happy to share family stories with colleagues. His pride in Theresa and the children, delighting in the exploits of his Westies, and when the family took over Theresa’s family farm, animated tales of pulling errant livestock from ditches in the early hours.

In the end there was a substantial flock of sheep and a herd of Pedigree Belted Galloways. The “beasts” as he called them, would be treated to his eclectic taste in music - Status Quo, ABBA, Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, and The Killers were all played loud – an advantage of living in an isolated spot.

After leaving The Herald in 2004, he remained a valuable contributor as chief motoring writer, a role that took him around the world and gained another network of friends in The Association of Scottish Motoring Writers. He also became, for 12 years, editor of Menopause Matters, which won magazine of the year at the Scottish PPA awards in 2013.

When Andrew joined the Rotary in Thornhill he quickly became President, giving him the opportunity to open the door to female members for the first time.

Golf became less of an interest, but his lifelong love of Robert Burns was undiminished. He could recite Tam O’ Shanter with all the animation and drama required, and was a member of the Howff Club in Dumfries.

He said Burns was on a par with God, quite a statement for a man of faith.

Andrew is survived by Theresa, Gordon, Helen, and Stuart, five grandchildren, and his beloved West Highland Terrier Louie.

Lorraine Wilson