Lives of the fellows

Gordon Miller McAndrew

b.20 May 1933 d.1 July 2016
MB ChB Aberd(1957) MRCP Edin(1962) MRCP(1966) FRCP Edin(1975) FRCP(1986)

Gordon McAndrew, a consultant in geriatric medicine for the Lothian Health Board, was a well-known and respected member of both the medical profession and the Edinburgh civic community. Born in Aberdeen, he was the only child of John McAndrew, Aberdeen area accountant for Scottish Agricultural Industries, and his wife, Violet McAndrew née Coutts.

Gordon was a pupil at Aberdeen Grammar School until 1951, when he won the Liddell entrance bursary to the faculty of medicine at Aberdeen University. He graduated MB ChB in 1957 and, despite longstanding serious health problems, went on to pursue a long and full working life.

As a senior registrar in Aberdeen he was a member of the BMA central committee for hospital services, including the negotiating sub-committee from 1968 to 1970; subsequently as a consultant he was an elected member of the General Medical Council from 1971 to 1976, serving on the disciplinary and ethics committees. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1975 and of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1986.

In 1971, after two years as a consultant geriatrician in York, he became a consultant physician in medicine for the elderly at the Royal Victoria and Western General hospitals in Edinburgh, a post which he held until he retired from the hospital service in 1996 at the age of 63. During this time, he served for ten years (from 1976 to 1986) on the medical advisory group and subsequently the professional advisory committee of St Columba’s Hospice, during planning. However, his strong work ethic meant that he continued to work and, after a spell doing private clinics (from 1999 to 2006), he became a part-time medical member of the Appeals Tribunal Service, whilst simultaneously acting as part-time medical assessor for Seafield and Warriston crematoriums – a post which he took up some years prior to his retirement from the NHS and continued to hold until 2014, when he finally and reluctantly retired at the age of 81. This latter post entailed very early morning starts and, en route to Seafield, he would generally fit in a walk on Arthur’s Seat.

He was an avid reader with an endlessly enquiring mind and a range of interests and activities too numerous to list, all of which he pursued to the full. In the 1990s, having developed an interest in the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh (or guilds), he joined the Incorporation of Hammermen of Edinburgh, serving as deacon convenor from 2003 until 2005, when he became boxmaster, and subsequently from 2009 to 2012, deacon convenor of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh. During this time, it fell to him to commission a new version of the historic Blue Blanket, the banner of the Trades of Edinburgh, the original version of which is said to have been given to the Trades by King James III in 1482 and carried at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Earlier, in 2007, he had been made a burgess and free citizen of the City of Edinburgh.

An art lover and collector, his interest in art, archaeology, history, hill walking, wildlife and ancient Biblical sites led him to travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Antarctica, whilst a deep affection for his homeland fostered an interest in all things Scottish: inter alia, he assembled a collection of more than 700 Scottish church communion tokens dating from the 17th to the 20th century, he passed his Gaelic higher examination at the age of 50 and he joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society at its inception. As well as a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, he will also be remembered as a keen horologist and long-standing member of the Scottish Antiquarian Horological Society.

From an early age he developed an enduring love for the wilds of Scotland, with an overriding passion for mountains. Having embraced his father’s enthusiasm for the hills, as a young boy he started exploring the mountains of the north east in the 1940s, despite the travel limitations of the time, and continued to do so as a member of the school ramblers and mountaineering clubs. He joined the Cairngorm Club in 1949 at the age of 16 and went on to become an accomplished mountaineer and hill-walker. In 1986, he conquered his final ‘Munro’, thereby becoming a ‘compleater’, scaling all the mountains with a height of over 3,000 feet, which Sir Hugh Munro had described in 1891. It was at this stage that he revealed his entrepreneurial side when, having gained permission to reproduce Munro’s coat of arms, he designed a commemorative tie and later, by popular request, a badge, for compleaters. As keeper of the regalia, he was the official supplier of Munroist regalia until his death and the business continues to be run by a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.

In keeping with his strong lifelong Christian faith, he was a philanthropist who demonstrated genuine concern for those less fortunate. Among other things, he was for many years a trustee of the John Wilson Bequest Fund, which provided pensions to male citizens of Edinburgh and East Lothian in reduced circumstances; from 2005 until his death he was a governor of the Edinburgh Trades Maiden Fund, providing grants to girls in reduced circumstances in respect of education, ill-health or family circumstances. He was also an enthusiastic volunteer helper at the night shelter for the homeless run by the Bethany Christian Trust; and last but not least, having earlier funded two prizes at the Scottish Baptist College in Paisley in memory of his parents, his legacy contained a further substantial bequest to fund a further award at that college.

An unassuming man, he was a source of wisdom, kindness and inspiration to many. Never judgemental or overbearing, his counsel was freely offered but never imposed upon those with whom he worked. Although a very private individual, he was known as a willing and generous host, behind whose serious demeanour lay a wealth of original thought, a quick wit and lively sense of humour. True to form, he bore his final illness with extraordinary dignity and courage until he died in hospital surrounded by his family.

The Blue Blanket and the banner of the Hammermen flanked the rostrum at his thanksgiving service at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh. The service, planned in its entirety by Gordon himself, took place exactly 34 years from the day on which he and his friend John Hetherington had climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle of the Cuillin on Skye.

Gordon McAndrew was survived by his wife of 54 years, Leonora Murray, their daughter, Shirley-Anne, son, Moray, and three grandchildren.

Leonora McAndrew

(Volume XII, page web)

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