Obituary: Douglas Wright, ex-director of Keep Scotland Beautiful

Douglas Wright has died at the age of 84
Douglas Wright has died at the age of 84
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Born 22 July 1932. Died 4th March 2017, aged 84

Douglas Stewart Wright died peacefully surrounded by family at Randolph Hill Nursing Home in Dunblane. For almost 25 years, Douglas was Director for Scotland at Keep Scotland Beautiful, part of the Tidy Britain Group. He was awarded The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s honour list of 1995. Both honours were awarded for Douglas’s services to the environment.

Born in Balornock Road, Glasgow, Douglas grew up in humble surroundings. Son to a mounted policeman and a Glasgow Royal Infirmary ward nurse. Dougie and Eveline provided a stable and loving home where they were joined a number of years later by his brother, Norman.

It was during his relocation to Castle Douglas, thanks to World War II when he was posted to a farm that provided respite from the bombings of the Clyde and Glasgow, that Douglas started to appreciate and fall in love with the countryside and great outdoors. He was fascinated by the working sheepdogs and would later come to have his own chocolate coloured border collie, Deveron, who became a fixture by his side in both work and leisure pursuits.

Leaving school at 15, Douglas found employment with Coates Linen & Thread Co. A job with Coates was much sought after by many but not Douglas! No-one had ever asked for time off to attend an interview until he did. Despite the opposition of management, it was granted and his venture was successful. He found himself employed in a junior position with George Outram & Co Publishers Ltd. Called to National Service at 18, Douglas was proud to serve with The Cameronians (Scottish Rifleman) and served in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency and Communist Uprising. It led toa love of travel and he visited a number of famous landmarks throughout his service. It also exposed his allergy to alcohol and dislike of tobacco having tried to enjoy a pipe for a fleeting period.

Douglas resumed employment with the publishers following his national service, rising to advertising roles with Farming News and Advertising Manager for Scottish Farmer. It was during these roles that he started to wear his regimental kilt to the various Highland Shows that were based around Scotland. He enjoyed wearing the kilt and the firm’s accountant said if he wore it for the company all the time, he could get a tax rebate! It was then Douglas embarked on his defining wardrobe of choice. He went on to wear the kilt for over 50 years on a daily basis. Kilt and all, Douglas moved jobs to the Scottish Council for the care of Spastics (now Capability Scotland). In his role as fundraiser, he was highly successful and brought him into contact with other charities and contacts.

On 3rd June 1960, Douglas met May Carswell at ‘The Albert” in Glasgow. Following a whirlwind romance, they were married on 21 October, 1960 and honeymooned in Edinburgh. Family followed with Maeve in 1968 and then Clarinda and Gordon in the years after. Family was important to Douglas and the family have fond memories of holidays and dog walking over the decades that followed.

In 1973, Douglas took on the role at Keep Scotland Tidy that would come to define him; Director of Scotland for the Tidy Britain Group. His work here was wide ranging and pioneering at times. He was instrumental in a number of the local authority environmental measures you see today. Following the adoption of Beautiful Scotland in Bloom, Douglas changed the name to Keep Scotland Beautiful and added additional projects such as Eco Schools, Munro Clean, National 
Spring Clean, Environment Week, Tidy Travel, Bin it for Britain, People & Places and Blue Flag Beaches. Most important to him though was the enforcement of environmental measures of cleanliness for each local authority and an accountability for the standards throughout Scotland.

This would not have been possible without the co-operation of local authorities and Douglas built strong relationships with each council and leaders of Industry.

His tireless contribution did not stop at conservation and the environment, Douglas was steadfast in his profession of Christian faith and was an active member of the Gideons in the Stirling area. He regularly worshipped in Dunblane, Lecropt and latterly Stirling Baptist Church.

Douglas’s passion for the countryside helped him access a range of hobbies and activities ranging from cycling clubs, mountaineering, rally driving and on the odd occasion, modelling for the Scottish Field. His real happiness however, was when he was reading. History, reference and information, Douglas had a hunger for knowledge and a love for ‘The Bard’. He was an honorary member and past president of Glasgow Haggis Club.

Armed with a wonderful sense of humour, Douglas would easily make and keep friends, often supporting people in need and reaching out to help others without being asked. He received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Glasgow Police, after he came to the aid of a policeman who was being attacked by two assailants. On another occasion, a newspaper headline read “Kindness wore a kilt” following his support for disadvantaged citizens.

He is survived by his wife May, daughters Maeve and Clarinda, son Gordon and four grandchildren.

He will be sorely missed but forever remembered fondly by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.