Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Ian MacFarlane: Inverness union rep snubbed by Thatcher dies aged 85

Ian MacFarlane from Inverness. Picture supplied by his family
Ian MacFarlane from Inverness. Picture supplied by his family

His daughter referred to him as the most sought after Santa in Inverness.

Others knew him as the man snubbed by Margaret Thatcher.

But for thousands between Tayside and Shetland, he was the man who tirelessly fought for the rights of others as their trade union representative.

We look back on the life of Ian MacFarlane, who has died aged 85.

Opportunity in the Highlands

Despite making the Highlands his home, Ian was born on May 10,1936, in Wallsend, England.

The industrial port – part of the city of Newcastle – was also home to his future wife Pat McDonnell.

The pair were married in St Bede’s Church, Denton Burn, on June 7, 1958 and it wouldn’t be long before the MacFarlane family grew.

Known for hard work, Ian MacFarlane of Inverness.

With four sons, Neil, Andrew, Colin and Martin, and two daughters, Shona and Miriam, a job that worked around family commitments was needed.

Then a junior engineer in the Merchant Navy, he sought a land-based job.

Opportunity arose in the Highlands, and he moved his family from Tyneside to Caithness, beginning his career in the nuclear industry.

Dounreay and the Union

An engineer, he began work at Dounreay’s fast breeder reactor.

A switch to Rolls Royce at the adjacent HMS Vulcan naval reactor test site followed, this time as technical engineer.

But 14 years into his career he’d take on a groundbreaking role.

The North’s first full-time representative for the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) he was then based in Inverness.

The location of the Dounreay And HMS Vulcan site where Ian would have worked.

He had been a shop steward at both Dounreay and Vulcan and accepted the full-time AEU role in 1976.

Ian went on to represent the interests of workers from the Western Isles to Aberdeen and Dundee.

His responsibilities covered the oil fabrication yards at Nigg and Ardersier, then an employer of up to 10,000 people.

He also worked with the aluminium smelters of Invergordon, Kinlochleven and Fort William.

He helped so many

“Ian was a cheery character and very well liked”, said ex-Inverness Provost Jimmy Gray, who was shop stewards convenor at Ardersier.

“He worked alongside major union figures such as Jimmy Airlie and Gavin Strang and was involved in negotiating one of the industry’s most progressive agreements at McDermotts at Ardersier.

Ian MacFarlane as many will remember him.

“Until then, agreements reserved skilled work for a travelling workforce.

“But this deal allowed for the training up of several thousand local people to skilled status.

“This gave careers to so many people in communities throughout the North and greatly benefited their families, keeping the wages in the area.”

Snubbed by Margaret Thatcher

A favourite recollection of Ian’s was the time he sought a meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Jobs in smelters were threatened so during her visit to Inverness he insisted he had a delegation from Kinlochleven and that the PM should fit him in.

Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister.

However, citing time constraints, her team denied his request.

Ian responded by telling the media he had been ‘snubbed’.

The PM’s response

On hearing this Mrs Thatcher said a meeting would take place.

But this left Ian and his (non-existent) delegation in a tight spot.

Eventually, however, the get-together didn’t go ahead.

A very relieved Ian was then able to return to his ‘snubbed’ scenario and a story he loved to tell over the years.

Family man

Retiring in 1996, Ian was a keen golfer and skier and enjoying time in the family caravan at Dornoch.

Ian MacFarlane.

He worked as a part-time security man, and lollipop man at Drakies Primary, Inverness.

And his cheery nature made him, in daughter Shona’s words: “the most sought after Santa in Inverness.”

He leaves behind Pat, his children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at Inverness Crematorium on September 16.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]