Obituary: Dr Iain Todd, general practitioner, longtime servant to Scottish rugby in many offices, sailor

Dr Iain Todd has died at the age of 92
Dr Iain Todd has died at the age of 92
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Dr Iain Mathieson Todd, GP and rugby official, Born: 10 October, 1924 in Glasgow. Died: 2 August, 2017 in Bearsden, aged 92

With the passing, after a short illness, in his 93rd year of Dr Iain Todd, Glasgow and Scottish rugby has lost an outstanding supporter and administrator.

“Toddy” was a Hughenden man; he played there for Hillhead High School and for the former pupils club. He was a tireless and long-serving official there, after service as a first XV player, before going on to be touch judge, secretary, club doctor and a trustee. A Hillhead man, yes, but he could see the broader picture and his service to the vast Glasgow District over many years was outstanding.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when Scotland’s feared “Mean Machine” pack wrought havoc, that octet more often than not had a Glasgow core. During that time Glasgow produced three British Lions in Ian McLauchlan – one of Iain’s successors as SRU president, Sandy Carmichael and the late Gordon Brown, who locked the scrum with fellow Ayrshireman Alistair McHarg. Later came David Gray and Bill Cuthbertson and Gordon Strachan, while Scotland captain Peter Brown, like his younger brother, benefited from the advice and support of Iain Todd.

This support was all-encompassing. Former Glasgow, Scotland and British Lions No 8 John Beattie, now a commentator and presenter with BBC Scotland, recalls one occasion when Iain Todd went that extra mile for him.

“It was my career-ending ligament injury. Iain’s daughter lived round the corner from our top-floor flat in Broomhill and Iain was very generous in wanting to help. I had a pin through my knee and kept yelping as he pushed me up the stairs grunting: ‘Just a few more steps…’ he was a truly lovely man and a huge part of my early life. Old fashioned and honest.”

It is claimed, with more than a degree of truth, that Iain Todd was one quarter of a Hillhead “mafia” with the late Iain MacGregor, Minto Butters and top international referee and future SRU president Allan Hosie, which ruled Glasgow rugby. From Glasgow selector and committee-man, he was promoted on to the old SRU committee, and was president of the Union in 1995 – that monumental and difficult year when Rugby Union went “open”.

“Iain was immensely popular within rugby, and never more so than when he was international tickets allocation secretary and convener; then, he was everybody’s friend,” recalls Allan Hosie.

Iain was born in Clouston Street, in the West End of Glasgow in 1924. He had one brother, David, but countless cousins and each summer, he would holiday in Kintyre, where his grand-parents farmed near Campbeltown. This sparked-off a life-long love affair with the peninsula – long days working on the farm, roaming the hills or fishing for salmon and lobster with the locals. Iain might have been a “Weegie”, but, his heart was in Argyll.

His watch was perhaps set to “Kintyre time”. Punctual to a fault, he kept it permanently ten minutes fast, and even then he never trusted his timepiece and frequently arrived for appointments 20 minutes early.

From Hillhead High School, in 1942 the young Iain Todd went up to Glasgow University, to study medicine by day, and patrol with the Home Guard at night. Graduating, he had to do his compulsory National Service, some of it Burma with the Royal Army Medical Corps and this service made a lasting impression, as well as earning him “international” honours, when he played for a Burma XV against a touring British Army rugby side.

Back in Glasgow, he completed his medical residency at the Western Infirmary, before embarking on a life in general practice, joining the Govan practice run by well-known Scottish swimmer Dr Merrilees Chassels. In 1955 he married Isobel and the couple settled down to life in Pollokshields.

With rugby and Kintyre, he had a third passion – sailing on Loch Lomond. He was a long-time member of Loch Lomond Sailing Club and he knew the sometimes treacherous waters and currents of the loch intimately. He was also, as he was in most areas of life, a stickler for doing things the right way, insisting on the correct flags being flown during racing etc.

Life as a GP and rugby official kept him busy until retirement, whereupon he and Isobel decamped to Drymen, but, in 2003, their retirement was hit by Isobel’s stroke, which saw her forced into a nursing home.

Iain, however, remained independent. Indeed, at the start of his 92nd year he, to the alarm of his family, went outside, clutching a lump of coal, to first-foot the house in the proper way.

Although out of the administration firing line, he continued to support Hillhead-Jordanhill as his club now was, and Glasgow rugby. In his tenth decade, he would still give the rugby writers the benefit of his wisdom as he watched Glasgow Warriors.

Illness in his final months forced him to join Isobel in the nursing home, a move which he accepted well, in fact enjoyed, under the superb care of the Buchanan Nursing Home staff.

Isobel survives him, along with their daughters and eight grandchildren – Mark, Claire and Emma. Gordon and 
Stewart who are in the US and Imogen, Gregor and Michael, plus great-grand-daughter Skye.

There will be a private family cremation, followed by a Service of Thanksgiving at Drymen Parish Church, Drymen on Friday, 11 August at 1:30pm, to which all family and friends are respectfully invited. No flowers please. Club ties may be worn.

MATTHEW VALLANCE