Over the past two decades, Joe Mackie has helped raise millions of pounds to help the north-east’s sickest kids get the best treatment possible.
After working his way up the corporate ladder at First Aberdeen, he became involved in the world of fundraising hospital in 1998.
Ten years later he was named chairman of The Archie Foundation – a role he is disappointed will come to an end later this month.
Mr Mackie has been involved with the charity from its inception in 2000, when a committee was set up hoping to raise £3 million for the new Foresterhill facility.
And after Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (Rach) began welcoming patients in 2004 – and was officially opened by The Queen the following year, the organisation continued to grow.
It now supports similar units in Inverness and Dundee, alongside Friends Of The Neonatal Unit in Aberdeen and Grampian Child Bereavement Network.
But outlining the full extent of Mr Mackie’s support for the cause requires him to “turn the clock back a wee bit” to 1998.
At the time, he was commercial manager of the firm, which was looking to mark 100 years of involvement in the city.
“We decided to embark upon a number of charitable fundraising causes, so I set up a small committee and we raised £180,000,” he said.
“That’s what gave me the wish to do a bit more for the local community.”
His drive to offer additional support led to him joining The Archie Foundation.
He said: “The intention was to raise money for things that would make a difference to the new hospital.
“It was always going to be a wonderful, state-of-the-art building, but there were some additional things that would make it even better for the children and the parents.
“Things like having pull-down beds in the rooms so a parent could stay overnight with their ill child.
“And we have a 19-room facility within the hospital for parent accommodation, but we call it our hotel.
“It’s all provided free of charge and funded by The Archie Foundation, and help to make a truly great hospital even better still.”
‘Importance’ of Archie Foundation’s work
Recently the charity refurbished an outdoor play area and installed an accessible swing so more youngsters can enjoy time outdoors.
Working with the BBC and team at Beechgrove Garden, they overhauled an outside space, and in 2017 opened a P&J-sponsored media lounge for parents enjoy some peace and quiet away from the wards.
Mr Mackie always finds it difficult to see sick children and their families when visiting the hospital, but said it is “rewarding” to see the difference The Archie Foundation is able to have.
“Quite recently we spent a lot of money refurbishing the entrance to the hospital,” he added.
“It’s a far more colourful area with bright, rich colours and welcoming seating, and wee pods with iPads for children to use.
“It is really important we get away from the stark, clinical appearance of hospitals.”
Alongside physical improvements, The Archie Foundation works in many other ways to brighten the days of sick kids on the wards.
It regularly welcomes the likes of magicians and face-painters in to entertain the youngsters and supports a play leader to help distract children and provide reassurance and company.
Other posts funded by the charity include a family support worker and a pain specialist who works with patients and trains up other staff.
Giving back to the city
But, while Mr Mackie has headed up the organisation as chairman for the last 13 years, he is keen to emphasise the team dynamics at play.
He was made an OBE in 2019, with inclusion on that year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Mr Mackie said: “That was really, really good – and most unexpected.
“You get the letter through the post and you read it, then you read it again, and then you accept it is destined for you.
“It’s great that the input has been recognised in that way but, like all other areas, there are a lot more people behind the scenes that have delivered what we have.”
He added: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trustee and chairman, and I will continue to support the charity.
“I’ve always been proud to be an Aberdonian and I don’t remember ever having any burning desire to leave it and live elsewhere.
“Aberdeen is a great city and I wanted to put something back into it, just like our forbearers did.
“For me, that has been about doing what I could to help charities – on top of, of course, helping provide an excellent bus service.”
And while this job is coming to an end, he has plenty other projects to keep his diary packed.
Mr Mackie is chairman of the Bus Driver Of The Year Competition and of the local St John Ambulance branch.
He is a trustee of the Boys Brigade Aberdeen battalion, Aberdeen Arts Centre and the city’s gallery and museums trust.
Additionally, he maintains his links to the transport sector by chairing a First Group heritage trust, and acting as treasurer for the Aberdeen And District Transport Preservation Trust.
He added: “I think there’s enough there to continue to keep me reasonably active.”
Route to bus career almost missed
It was something of a family tradition for the men in Joe Mackie’s family to work on the buses.
And he followed suit on July 1 1963 – just three days after leaving school aged 15.
But while this decision led to a long and prestigious career, it could have been very different.
“Strangely enough, I had applied for another job and been offered it,” he said.
“But after a chat with my dad he managed to persuade me I should really be going into the buses.
“There were a number of families in the buses then – it was a father, son, nephew, uncle type of thing.
“So it was quite a tradition to keep it in the family.”
His first role, with what was then known as Aberdeen Corporation Transport, was a “parcel loon”.
Initially named because the job would involve delivering packages, this part of the business was wound down – but the name remained.
During the following years, Mr Mackie became a bus conductor then a driver, before moving into relief administrative work.
When he retired 52 years and three months after starting, he was commercial director for First Aberdeen.