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‘He never believed he made a difference’: Family’s poignant tribute to Maggie’s manager Kevin Mathieson

The 52-year-old from Aberdeen spent his life helping others through cancer, but succumbed to it himself.

Kevin Mathieson, in his younger years and as he will be remembered by friends and family now.
Kevin Mathieson, in his younger years and as he will be remembered by friends and family now.

He devoted decades to helping others and making Maggie’s Aberdeen a place of solace for those going through cancer. Yet dad-of-three Kevin Mathieson died without truly knowing the impact his life had on others.

“He didn’t even think we could fill Aberdeen crematorium chapel,” said wife Jinette, “and it was packed.”

His family is now paying tribute to the “big-hearted” man, who was modest “to a fault.”

Aberdeen loon

Kevin Mathieson was born on October 2 1971 in Fonthill Maternity, Aberdeen. The only child of Gina and Terry Mathieson, he attended Robert Gordon’s College.

Discovering a love of rugby he became a first team Gordonian and outwith school devoted time to the local air cadets, attaining the rank of sergeant.

Kevin, right, as a young air cadet.

On leaving school Dons fan Kevin accepted an admin post with Texaco.

A spell as a customs officer followed, and a stint with Hydro Electric in the payroll department. Then, in 199,5 everything changed when he made the decision to become a nurse.

Graduating from Robert Gordon University, he qualified in 1998.

London calling

Kevin was keen to experience life outside Aberdeen and so applied for a staff nurse post at St George’s Hospital, London.

Jinette Morgan, a senior sister on a cancer ward, who was gearing up to leave, interviewed him for the job.

And while her mind was firmly fixed on filling the vacant position, he called home that night to tell his dad he’d met the woman he was going to marry.

Mr and Mrs Kevin and Jinette Mathieson on their wedding day.

A funeral of a patient brought the pair back together and six months later they married on October 28 1999.

Both life and death matter

From St George’s Kevin moved to the Royal Marsden where once more he looked after cancer patients.

“It was all a bit unusual for the time,” Jinette said. “There really weren’t many men in general nursing, but fewer still within our line of work.

“However, Kevin loved his job. He had a massive heart and a huge capacity for care and compassion.”

Kevin Mathieson, who was centre head of Maggie’s Aberdeen.

From hospitals Kevin switched to palliative care, taking on a role at Trinity Hospice. “Hugely empathetic” he found his fit as a someone who could steer people through some of the hardest times of their lives.

“In reality he recognised it isn’t just about having a good life. Having a peaceful, pain free, dignified death, surrounded by the people you love, is something everyone should be able to access,” added Jinette.

Born to be a dad

But if he thought nursing was his niche, that was only until his children came along. He put his entire being in to becoming a great dad.

In 2000 son Jacob was born, followed by Caitlin in 2001 then Molly in 2003.

Kevin Mathieson and son Jacob at his graduation.

Alongside parenthood, Kevin became day hospice manager of Sue Ryder, Leckhampton Court. Still hands-on, this was a first step into managing care facilities.

Home to Aberdeen

In 2003 the family relocated to Aberdeen. With three small children under three, and ageing grandparents, Kevin wanted to be nearer family.

Initially taking on a charge nurse role at Woodend, it was his next position – as a palliative care clinical nurse specialist – that brought him most joy. Working in the community, visiting patients in their homes, he spent 15 years helping hundreds “if not thousands” of families.

Molly Mathieson and her dad Kevin.

When the family moved from Old Meldrum to Auchterless in 2007 Kevin took a break from nursing, while Jinette continued full-time.

“It meant we had such a lot of time with dad, that we’ve since come to be very grateful for,” said Jacob.

Dream role at Maggie’s

A post within elderly day care for Aberdeenshire Council was Kevin’s next challenge before taking on the task of improving standards at Durnhythe Care Home, Portsoy.

But his heart never strayed far from cancer care.

Taking a risk on a temporary position, he applied for a maternity cover role as cancer services manager with CLAN.

Kevin Mathieson and wife Jinette, whose careers have both been devoted to helping others.

“He was brilliant at it,” said Jinette, “which was no surprise to us. Then his dream job came up.”

The position of centre manager at Maggie’s Aberdeen was advertised.

Believing he didn’t quite have what it would take, he watched as the advert came and went. When it reappeared a second time he took the plunge and applied.

He never looked back.

Family man to the end

After just four years at Maggie’s, Kevin was diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome. Further tests led to a later diagnosis of cancer.

Though it did present immediate challenges his cancer prognosis was hopeful.

Kevin Mathieson with his daughter Caitlin on her 21st birthday.

Sadly after a prolonged stay at Woodend, and just as plans were being finalised for a move to a more accessible property, Kevin contracted Covid.

“Very unwell with it” he was transferred back to the ARI. Further deterioration led to the decision that Kevin should be moved to Roxburghe House. This took place on November 25.

Father and daughter, Kevin and Molly Mathieson.

“The truth is, Kevin wanted to die at Roxburghe House. He knew the people, and the place, and that was his wish. They were fabulous,” said Jinette.

Making sure he could enjoy every last second with his family, at Kevin’s request no drugs were administered if they’d make him drowsy.

The witty man known for his legendary roast chicken dinners, cook books and appetite for great food, was slowly replaced by someone altogether different.

With Jinette by his side, Kevin passed away peacefully on December 11, age 52.

‘He deserves every tribute’

At his funeral Jacob paid his father tribute.

“Dad never let us forget how proud he was of all of us and it didn’t matter what he thought he was capable of, he would push us and support us to do things beyond what we thought we could.

Much loved and deeply missed, Kevin Mathieson of Aberdeen.

“This was never more clearly shown than with the unwavering support he showed my mum throughout her career. He had not a single doubt in his mind that she is brilliant.

“Everything he did for us was done without asking for credit or appreciation. Just that we would emulate that selflessness for the rest of the family. He deserves every plaudit and tribute paid to him.”

Such sadness

Speaking about her husband of 24 years Jinette added: “I know cancer can happen to anyone. I see that every day, and so did Kevin. It just somehow feels so terribly unfair, and so sad, that he gave his life to helping others through the pain of cancer, but succumbed to it himself.

He is survived by his wife, children and his mum Gina.