The worlds of north-east business, charity and sport are mourning the death of “one of life’s genuinely good guys” Duncan Skinner, who has died aged 63.
Mr Skinner, who was chairman of the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (AFCCT) bravely fought cancer over the past year, and died on Thursday.
The Moffat-born chartered management accountant was one of the north-east’s most respected business figures, both for his 35-year career in the oil and gas industry, and for his role in helping to save one of Aberdeen’s longest-established charities.
He spent his initial school years at Cults Academy before his family moved to Lewis, where his mum hailed from, after his father was given the job as the only vet on the island.
He later moved back to Aberdeen to do a degree in business studies at Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology, now Robert Gordon University.
Mr Skinner was the chief financial officer of energy services firm PSN, and played a key role in its £606 million sale to Wood Group.
One of the many highlights of his professional career was helping to rescue the mattress-making social enterprise Glencraft from the threat of liquidation and becoming its chairman.
The company, founded in the mid-1800s, had ceased trading, with the loss of more than 50 jobs for blind and disabled workers in Aberdeen.
Mr Skinner arranged an initial meeting with the Glencraft liquidator and the same morning was also approached by PSN chief executive Bob Keiller, who wanted to discuss opportunities for the oil service firm to support Glencraft’s plight.
It survived, thanks to a £233,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise (SE), a £150,000 loan from the social-investment banking arm of SE and a six-figure sum from PSN in cash and staff time.
In 2013, Mr Skinner retired from the oil and gas sector to concentrate on social enterprise and charity work.
This weekend, tributes were paid from well-known names across the north-east in memory of the 63-year-old.
Mr Keiller, who after PSN became chief executive of Wood Group, said: “Duncan was unique.
“He was loved by family, friends and workmates and was always there to help. His compassion led to his work with charities and he was a valued mentor to so many.
“Always sociable and up for fun, he was a pleasure to be with. He will be sorely missed – they don’t make them like that any more.”
Former PSN director Ali Green, now chief executive of Drumburn Energy, said: “Duncan was one of life’s genuinely good guys who had a fantastic positive attitude to everything and everyone.
“He was always willing to share his knowledge and provide wise counsel where needed.”
Mr Skinner’s son Andrew, a sports reporter at the Press and Journal, said his family have been “blown away” by tributes.
He said: “He enjoyed a very fulfilling professional life in which he met so many people and made great friends along the way, but family always came first.
“He took immense pride in everything he did, and as a father he went over and above to share it all with me.
“His Lewis roots were dear to him and it became our favourite family holiday every summer. His own hobbies were football, golf and hillwalking, and he drove them all into me.
“He took me to all the Aberdeen games up and down the country, he signed me up as a junior member at Deeside golf club, and took me up Schiehallion to bag my first Munro at the age of 11.
“The result of these shared experiences was that we became the best of friends over and above our family relationship.
“He leaves a huge void in my life and I will miss him dearly, but there is so much for me to cherish every day.”
‘A love for life that was infectious’
An avid supporter of Aberdeen FC, Duncan Skinner became chairman of the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (AFCCT) in 2014 at its inception, before joining the Aberdeen FC board as a non-executive director in 2015.
Aberdeen FC Chairman Dave Cormack said his sorrow over Mr Skinner’s death will be “felt profoundly” by all who knew him.
He said: “Everyone at the club and trust is devastated by the loss of Duncan.
“As chairman of the AFC Community Trust and as a Board Director for a number of years, Duncan brought positivity, desire, a keen business acumen and a love for life that was infectious.
“I was fortunate to speak with him just over a week ago and he told me how proud he was of the Club and the work it does alongside AFCCT in the north-east.
“A real dandy, he will be a huge loss to us all.”
James Knowles, acting chairman of AFCCT, added: “Duncan was a wonderful character who will be sadly missed by many however, his legacy will live on within AFC Community Trust.”
Golfer Paul Lawrie said on social media: “Gutted to hear the sad news that Duncan Skinner had passed away – great guy who was always very generous towards our foundation and our community.”
Former PSN director Ali Green added: “His chairmanship of the AFC Community Trust and Glencraft, and the work he did in growing these organisations, demonstrates the strong belief he had in giving back to his local community.
“He will be sadly missed by many.”