Co-founded St Jude’s Laundry and RAF Radar operator in Second World War.

Born: July 15, 1919;

Died: July 14, 2019

James Young, who has died in Glasgow aged 99, co-founded in 1963 the St Jude’s Laundry in Edinburgh Under his guidance and initiative the laundry grew to be a well-recognised and established business in the capital. It has an honourable history of employing those who are disabled and then trains them to find work at St. Jude’s. The business was founded with the backing of Capability Scotland in 1963 and is now part of Forth Sector. Young in the post war years was working in an Edinburgh laundry and he brought his skills to St Jude’s and saw it expand: it has held, amongst many other prestigious contracts in the city, two Royal Warrants for twenty five years as launderer to the Queen at Holyrood Palace.

During the Second World War Young saw distinguished service with a specialist branch of the RAF and was principally connected with various radar stations around Britain. He was often involved in decoding important and secret messages from the French Resistance and operated in the crews that tracked enemy aircrafts. He carried out such vital work in Ireland and in secret observation posts on Skye and at Scapa Flow.

James Coldwell Young was born in Edinburgh the son of a master bootmaker, also James Young and his wife Flora. He attended Gorgie Primary School and then George Heriot’s where he demonstrated real academic talent although the death of his mother was a sore blow. Young passed the entrance exams to work in the Customs and Excise but in 1939 after Hitler’s invasion of Poland he joined the RAF and after training in England in meteorology, he returned to Scotland to supervise the launch of barrage balloons from the RAF base in Bishopbriggs. The area is now the site of Bishopbriggs golf range.

Young was monitoring the phones in 1941 when Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess flew over his post in Lanarkshire and landed in fields near Eaglesham south of Glasgow. The flight was mysterious and has come to be recognised as an ill-conceived peace mission. Hess emerged from his plane and demanded to see the Duke of Hamilton. He was immediately arrested.

Young also served at Raigmore House, Inverness where the unit monitored all calls and radar: it was a particularly sensitive posting as it was the HQ for 14 Group of RAF Fighter Command. His final posting was at Cocos Islands, where the RAF carefully monitored Japanese Prisoner of War camps and flew aerial reconnaissance missions over the area. He finally dealt with British POWs who were being cared for after liberation from Japanese camps

On being demobbed he signed on for a re-training programme at the Heriot-Watt College. On graduating he was appointed a manager at the Inglis Green laundry in the capital. He was an acknowledged expert in the removal of stains from linen and clothes. However, his experience witnessing the rehabilitation of the POWs made him want to help the unfortunate. He did voluntary work with the Trefoil School which helps those with special needs.

Young and a friend Jane Errington, who was a qualified occupational therapist and worked with the Scottish Council for Spastics, were keen to set up a business that would help the disabled into the workplace. Such was the demand on Young’s time and energy he left his employment to work full time at St Jude’s. Those who have worked at St Jude’s over the years have been given the opportunity to work in a happy environment and given a settled work environment.

Young was an inspiring and enthusiast fund raiser. From the smallest scheme to larger public events Young raised money to improve the facilities for the staff and upgrade the laundry’s machines. St Jude’s now states, “Our laundry is staffed by individuals with mental health, physical or learning disabilities. By using our services you will be supporting local people with disabilities.” Sentiments which Young would heartily endorse.

His concern for others was further seen when, in the late 1970s, he took over the laundry at Glen Ochil Young Offenders’ Institution in Clackmannanshire. The prison deals with short-term and long-term prisoners. Young with his usual enthusiasm and energy trained the prisoners and helped them into work.

Young’s retirement was active and spent in a variety of locations – principally Chester, Edinburgh and Newton Mearns. He was about to celebrate his 100th birthday but, unfortunately, after a fall died on the day prior to his birthday. He married Lucy in 1943 who was a colleague in the filter room during the war and enjoyed a three day honeymoon in Perth. Lucy predeceased him and he is survived by their two daughters, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Alasdair Steven