Obituary: Ken Cameron, chartered accountant and superb golfer

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Kenneth David Mackay Cameron, chartered accountant. Born: 10 July 1925. Died: 28 July 2018, aged 93.

KDM Cameron (Ken), who died recently, spent his business life as a chartered accountant, initially in the profession as a partner in Kidston Goff & Harvey, and thereafter as finance director of privately owned Scotch whisky company Robertson & Baxter, and its parent Edrington. In his time outside business, he was an accomplished golfer, keen fisherman, devoted husband and loving dad and grandfather.

Born in 1925, he attended Glasgow Academy until 1943 in the middle of the war years, before volunteering for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and serving on the destroyer HMS Javelin in the latter part of the conflict and for a short time thereafter.

He attended Oxford University in the early war years for a combined course of law and naval training, but cheerfully admitted he failed the former and loved the latter.

After being demobbed in 1946, he completed his chartered accountant apprenticeship, qualifying in 1949 and joining Kidston Goff & Harvey (a forerunner of today’s Grant Thornton), where he became a partner in 1953.

This led to his first involvement with the whisky business of Robertson & Baxter, owned at that stage by the three unmarried Robertson sisters, Elspeth, Ethel (Babs) and Agnes. His role developed from auditor into trusted advisor to the sisters, and he became a regular attendee at board meetings. In time, the sisters asked him, along with fellow partner Bruce McNeil and London lawyer Christopher Malim, to help them devise a structure which would assure the continuing independence of the business after they had gone, and The Robertson Trust was eventually established in 1961 by the sisters donating their entire wealth to a new charitable trust, which in turn made its first charitable donations in 1964.

Today, the business continues to thrive as an independent group, and The Robertson Trust distributes around £20 million per annum to charities throughout Scotland, a remarkable testament to the sisters’ generosity, and to the sound advice they received from Ken and his colleagues at the time.

Subsequent to this advisory role, Ken was invited by the Robertsons to join Robertson & Baxter and its new holding company, Edrington, as financial director in 1966. He attended every board meeting thereafter until his eventual retirement from R&B in 1987, and finally from Edrington in 1995. He served as secretary to the Robertson Trust, and later as a trustee from 1982 to 1998.

Ken was the epitome of a Scottish chartered accountant – highly intelligent, unswerving in loyalty and integrity, and universally liked and respected by his colleagues and ­professional contacts. Many contemporaries in the business, both young and old, would often comment on his wise guidance and regular encouragement.

His R&B board colleagues were additionally grateful to him for his regular Monday morning golf clinics in his office, where their weekend golfing woes were swiftly remedied by ten minutes of coaching. The thud, thud, thud of his weighted 7-iron practice club on his office carpet as he demonstrated his beautiful swing was a sure message to others at the door to return later with the week’s more pressing business problems.

He had good reason for his swing advice to be sought by others, being an outstanding golfer himself in his post-war years and throughout his life thereafter. His handicap reached three in 1958, and he qualified for the Scottish Amateur Championship five times, although claimed he only ever won one tie. He joined Prestwick Golf Club in 1954, becoming captain in 1988-89, an ­honour he hugely appreciated and enjoyed. He was invited to join The R&A in 1964 and joined Glasgow Golf Club the same year.

He was also a long standing and enthusiastic member of Shiskine Golf Club on Arran, where he became captain in 1984-85. He maintained a list of every club he ever played, with the list amounting to more than 200 courses at his last update.

Ken was an assiduous note taker of events throughout his life, and had a fascinating scrapbook, beautifully annotated, of his war years, a copy of which now rests in the school library of Glasgow Academy.

In his private autobiography, he describes one of the most important events of his life as being his chance first date with Gill in 1963, arranged by his great friends Jack and ­Jennifer Reid.

Despite the accountant’s natural caution, Ken proposed to Gill within three months and they were married three months after that, spending their life together for the ­following 54 years.

They were blessed with the arrival of their two children Ewan and Julie in 1968 and 1970 respectively, and subsequently became adoring grandparents to their four grandsons and two granddaughters, or the “grandflowers” as Ken affectionately called them.

Ken leaves behind a legacy of affection and admiration from all he met. An understated gentleman, with a ready laugh, and a friend to many in all walks of life. A man who achieved much but who never sought the limelight or public recognition. We shall all miss him greatly.