You wouldn’t think that going to a funeral could leave you feeling positive but I’ve been buoyed up by the life of Alistair Norrie since going up to Inverness this week to his funeral
Alistair, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of November, was the Chair of Scotland North region. Anyone who knew him knew that he was a small-ish man with a huge personality. He was the life and soul of every party – even when he had to organise the party himself. But what struck me most, on a windswept and dismal day, was just how many lives he touched and how they all loved him. I arrived early but the queue to get in was already snaking round the corner. Many had heeded the family’s request for kilts and bright colours – I’d donned dress McLeod which, for those of you unfamiliar with Scottish clans, is the bright yellow monstrosity you get on shortbread boxes and packets of Edinburgh rock. It was raining but the music booming – and I mean booming - out from the funeral home was a mixture of Rock ‘n’ Roll and Johnnie Cash among other party favourites. It set the tone for the ceremony.
We heard tales of Alistair’s legendary partying, his love of the Blues Brothers and a lifetime of terrible jokes. This sat alongside his professional life and his charitable giving both through volunteering with the local Rotary, his curling, his membership of the oldest five-aside football team in the world and the 24-hour tournament he founded to raise funds for CHAS, the Children’s Hospices Across Scotland.
Naturally people were upset. At APS we are going to miss him terribly – we loved him. But Alistair’s lovely family were welcoming, gracious and dignified – particularly his widow, Mary. They were also stunned by the turnout. Over 450 people turned out and it was, genuinely, standing room only. It was a fitting tribute to the man that people from all walks of life and all ages were there in droves.
Many of you reading this will be working hard in design and construction health and safety risk management. Many of you will be volunteers for any number of groups, clubs and charities. Never think it doesn’t matter or that no one notices. It is a pity we so rarely remember to take the time to tell people in life just how much they mean to us or the ways they have had a positive impact. So, I am asking you all, in this season of goodwill, to take time to say, ‘Thank you’.
Let me start the ball-rolling – I would like to thank all APS Board and Council members for their hard work and commitment and everyone who has taken up a post on a regional committee for their help. I am grateful to our members and the contribution they make. And I am thankful for our partners and for their support. Lastly, but by no means the least, I would like to pay tribute to the lovely people I work with every day. You all make APS – you are APS – and I hope you all know what a difference you make.