In memory of Alan Ross 1944-2017

Alan Ross, formerly of the Guillain-Barré Syndrome Support Group, died suddenly on 3 December 2017, aged 73, while on holiday in Cyprus with his wife Kay.

Alan was diagnosed with GBS in 2002 and was treated in the Western General Infirmary in Edinburgh. After recovery he became a local contact in the Lothians and Borders. In April 2002 he was elected treasurer of the Group, serving for four years. With his background in accountancy his election at the same time as Andy Leitch became chairman was fortuitous. The charity’s finances were not in a good shape and he worked hard to ensure that they were put on a sound foundation. Alan’s support for, and advice to, Andy was vital as he introduced the necessary governance measures to bring the charity into the 21st century. He was a pleasure to work with. He was never afraid to speak his own min, but at the same time one was always conscious that here was a man of the upmost integrity.

Alan Ross was born and brought up in Renfrew, just west of Glasgow. On leaving school he became an apprentice accountant in Glasgow, qualifying in 1969 when he moved to Australia, joining an accountancy firm there. Alan had met his future wife, Kay, just before he started his apprenticeship, at an international church camp. Kay was Australian, and they corresponded while he completed his apprenticeship and got married after he moved to Australia. Their two children, Morag and Callum, were both born in Australia where he had become a partner in his firm. However, a call to the ministry meant a move back to Scotland to study theology at St Andrews. Following graduation, the family moved to Kenya where Alan was employed by a major accountancy practice specialising in dealing with clients handling foreign aid. He was very active in the life of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and preached in a parish situated in an industrial area.

The family left Kenya in 1988, returning to Scotland where Alan was ordained and inducted into a parish church in Annan. He proved to be a visionary and innovative incumbent introducing new forms of worship, and his congregation multiplied. After the Chernobyl disaster he galvanised his congregation to organise and dispatch two lorry loads of supplies to help the victims. It was a measure of the respect in which he was still held by members of the congregation that a choachload of them came to his funeral.

Andy Leitch adds:

It was a profound shock when Jamie telephoned Maggie and me with the very sad news of Alan’s untimely passing.

Having first met in a hotel at Liverpool Airport, I believe our first committee meeting was a hotel at Glasgow Airport, not far from Renfrew where Alan grew up.

After Alan had studied the charity’s financial situation, he realised that its expenditure was greater than its income and he introduced tough but necessary fiscal controls. Every year he would send me the draft financial return for the annual report and I had to learn how to understand the figures. As I was able to help him in my little way, he responded in spades by supporting my efforts to move the charity forward.

Maggie and I met Alan and Kay a couple of times after he retired from the charity. A few years ago, we spent two holidays in Scotland and arranged to meet up as we travelled back south. On the first occasion, we dined with them on a Saturday evening at a local hostelry and met up with them the following day at Ettrickbridge Kirk. The usual minister was away, and Alan took the service. The usual minister was away, and Alan took the service. The welcome and the atmosphere in that little church was wonderful and we think about it often. It was clearly obvious that both ALan and Kay were highly loved and respected by the community in which they lived. The second occasion on which we met, they would probably have preferred to forget for they both failed to turn up for a dinner in a hotel that they had arranged! I believe they had retired to bed when they got our phone call and a little later they turned up somewhat embarrassed. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful evening and it is fitting that our last memories of Alan are ones that we will never forget. It had been Alan and Kay’s intention to holiday here in Llandudno sometime in the future but alas this was never to be.

I am profoundly grateful for Alan’s support and guidance. GAIN would not be the successful charity it is today but for Alan’s financial acumen. We all owe him and Kay, whose support for Alan was total, a huge debt of gratitude.

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