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Obituary for NUJ member Stewart Boyd

Stewart Boyd making a presentation to Harold Pearson, NUJ President, and his wife in Edinburgh in 1973.   -  © Duncan Dingsdale

29 April 2014

Chris Reekie

Stewart Boyd, who has died at the age of 73, made his mark as an activist at chapel, branch, and national levels in the 1960s and 1970s. He had a grasp of  figures and detail to arm him as a capable negotiator, to which was attached a flair for organisation. His presence did not go unnoticed in any company. He brought energy and commitment as well as a sense of fun and a penetrating wit to any role he was in.

His many years on The Scotsman in Edinburgh began as a "tube boy" in April 1958 and he joined the union as a temporary member in November of that year. He was later a sub-editor and night editor. Full membership came in June 1963. He was secretary of Edinburgh and District branch 1964-67, vice-chairman 1968, and  chairman 1969-73. He was an ADM delegate from 1964 to 1972 and a member of the appeals tribunal for some years.

It is to Stewart Boyd that I credit my own involvement as a union office-bearer. When I first felt obliged to attend an Edinburgh branch meeting in late 1968, I was amazed to find only three people waiting in the Press Club: Stewart, Allan McLean, secretary, and George Strathie, treasurer, although a few other members attended around that time.

I was swiftly roped in to join the team, was handed membership duties in 1970, and was elected to the vacant secretaryship in January 1971. As secretary, I used to visit Stewart at home to discuss upcomimg business and I valued his shrewd advice. With Stewart giving a vigorous lead to the Edinburgh delegates, I attended my first ADM at Harrogate in 1970, was pushed forward to be a scrutineer at Bournemouth in 1971, and was persuaded to "break my duck" with my first two speeches at Tenby in 1972.

Stewart resigned from the branch chair in 1973 on becoming picture editor of The Scotsman. During the next 20 years in that post he oversaw the production of The Scotsman calendar annually and helped to found the UK Picture Editors Guild. He took early retirement in 1993 and was elected a life member of the NUJ in the same year.

Away from journalism, he was engaged in a host of activities. Sailing was a life-long passion. He had learned to sail as a boy and would later be a member of the Royal Forth Yacht Club and Dunbar Sailing Club. As secretary of the Royal Yachting Association Scotland for 17 years from 1993, he helped to organise numerous events. In 2005 he received from Princess Anne the award for distinguished services to yachting in the United Kingdom. Always attracted by the open sea, he sailed widely in British waters and ventured across the Atlantic and Pacific. Travel was another compelling interest and he journeyed extensively with his wife, Betty, as they enjoyed many holidays at various locations abroad.

Stewart James Boyd was born in Edinburgh on 31 May 1940 and died at Midlothian Community Hospital, Bonnyrigg, on 2 April 2014. Betty predeceased him in 2008. He is survived by two brothers and their families.

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