A trailblazer in the world of shinty, Liz Buchanan MBE, has died suddenly at the age of 68.
Expressing a deep sense of loss within the sporting community, tributes are now being paid for Liz, (formerly MacInnes, nee Gillies), who came from Stornoway.
A driving force in the sport during the 1970s and 1980s, she also had a distinguished career in tourism.
Liz, who was born in 1954, died unexpectedly on Sunday November 13. Shocked friends within the shinty community are expressing their condolences online.
Shinty historian and broadcaster Hugh Dan MacLennan was among those paying her tribute.
He said: “She was a wonderful woman in so many ways. For many people she was arguably the best president the sport’s governing body never had.”
Callum McLeod, retired Inverness player, added: “Rip Liz. A remarkable person. Sorely missed.”
Former Falkirk MSP Angus MacDonald, also from Stornoway, said: “So sorry to hear this. I knew Liz during her VisitScotland days in my role as MSP. It always gave us a chance to reminisce about ‘back home’. RIP Liz.”
Along with Kenny Thomson, Jack Richmond and Douglas MacIntosh, and others such as John Henderson and Peter Cullen of Glenmorangie, Liz formed part of a group behind the development of a Shinty Yearbook.
She became joint editor in 1979 after penning an important article about the history of the sport in the Western Isles, co-authored with D R Macdonald of Skye.
Her later work included a memorable account of “a weekend in May” which detailed a trip undertaken by Inverness Shinty Club, and others, to Killarney.
Liz held many roles over the years. She was secretary to the Inverness Shinty Club, joint-secretary of the North of Scotland Shinty Association and secretary and treasurer of the Camanachd Referees’ Association.
Hugh Dan MacLennan added: “This was in the days when shinty sticks cost just £14 a piece. However, she is still remembered, perhaps most fondly for the late and lamented Aviemore indoor six-a-side tournament.”
In 1978 history was made when Liz became the first female vice-president of the game’s governing body, the Camanachd Association (CA). As a result perceptions of female players changed and women were no longer expected simply to be “shinty widows”.
“It is to the great credit of Liz and others at the time who blazed a trail against all the odds,” Hugh Dan said.
Of Liz’s vice-presidency the Yearbook recorded that she took the world of shinty by storm, injecting a much-needed lease of life into an ageing administration.
The late Willie Batchen, a giant of the modern shinty game, was firmly behind Liz stating that she more than merited her position.
Current Camanachd Association chieftain John MacKenzie MBE echoed this sentiment. He said: “Liz played her part in one of the most entertaining occasions of that era.
“We should never forget the volunteers of that period and the efforts they enthusiastically generated to ensure everyone’s enjoyment at that most historic gathering of shinty folk.
“RIP Liz. Your legacy and involvement will be fully acknowledged in the annals of our great game. You will be fondly remembered by all your friends throughout the shinty community.”
Scottish Tourism pioneer
Off the pitch, Liz carved out a successful career in tourism beginning in 1978 with the Wester Ross Tourist Association. She then worked in Dundee, eventually becoming regional director of VisitScotland.
Between 1984 and 2008 she was chief executive of VisitScotland’s subsidiary, Tourist Board Training Ltd. And to make sure Scottish tourism was well represented further afield, Liz secured European funding. An appointment as president of the European Union of Tourist Officers (EUTO) followed.
For her distinguished service to tourism over more than three decades she received an MBE in January 2011.
Lewis girl at heart
Former colleague Colin Smith wrote: “So sorry to hear of Liz’s passing. Her enthusiasm for tourism was boundless and her knowledge encyclopaedic. Every meeting was a wonderful experience because in addition to being completely over her brief, Liz was just such a wonderful lady.
“She will be sorely missed.”
John MacLean said: “Such sad news, a remarkable and lovely person who has been taken far too soon. It was always a pleasure to be in her company. Sincere and heartfelt condolences to her family and friends from all at Caberfeidh Shinty Club.”
Despite many years away from her home, latterly in Troon, Liz never forgot her Western Isles roots. She frequently visited her brother in the family home and planned to visit again soon.
Liz married twice, to Angus MacInnes and Paul Buchanan.