Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Merchiston Castle School chapel packed

for Norman Mair Thanksgiving Service

The Thanksgiving Service for esteemed sportswriter Norman Mair MBE, conducted by the Rev Nicholas Blair, drew an estimated 300 friends, acquaintances and relations this afternoon to the perfect setting of the chapel of Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, where Norman was a pupil in his youth.
The packed congregation, the majority of the men grey, white-haired or bald heads, included many famous faces from Scottish rugby and it was appropriate that former British Lions and Scotland star Andy Irvine, a close friend, gave an appreciation of Norman's place in the world of rugby, highlighting the fact that he sacrificed a career as a top-class rugby coach by pursuing a career in journalism.
It was Norman's analytical mind that made him such a good coach at rugby (he was the tactical brain behind one Oxford victory over Cambridge), golf and tennis (he was Colinton Tennis Club secretary for a good few years) ... probably football as well. He played amateur football for Edinburgh side Spartans.
The golf writing fraternity was represented by Martin Dempster (The Scotsman), Mike Aitken (The Scotsman), now retired, Jock MacVicar (Scottish Daily Express), Nick Rodger (The Herald), freelance Elspeth Burnside, Cardiff-based  John Hopkins (formerly of The Times, now with Global Golf and representing the Association of Golf Writers of whom Norman had been a member since the early 1960s) and yours truly.
The trouble with an innings of 86 years is that Norman had outlived most of his peers.
Alison White of the R and A staff at St Andrews was also there with her husband Jim.
Norman and Lewine's elder son Logan spoke eloquently at the start of the service  of his fondest memories of family life with a notable father for whom sport, and not only rugby and cricket, came first, second and last in his life ... although Norman was a devoted family man who was immensely proud of their achievements.
It was not a service for mourners, more, as widow Lewine and her family intended, a celebration, at times humorous and entertaining, of Norman's distinguished career as a sportsman and sportswriter par excellence.
They don't make them like Nornan anymore. 
We shall not see his like again, more's the pity.


+As if Lewine Mair did not have enough to cope with, she has a broken ankle in plaster  ... a mishap while reporting on golf in Dubai four or five weeks ago.


  ‘Norman Mair’s life was well and truly celebrated in a memorial service at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, r attended by his family, more than 100 friends from rugby and golf and former journalist colleagues. 
"At Merchiston, Norman had achieved the trifecta of being head boy and captain of both cricket and rugby. Andy Irvine, the former rugby player and current rugby administrator, delivered an address which went into some detail about Norman’s involvement with rugby and the esteem in which he was held in the game. 
"It might not be generally known that Norman had been persona non grata with the Scottish Rugby Union for most of the 1960s and 1970s yet such was his reinstatement that he later became a member of a committee set up to look into rugby in Scotland. Also that he coached the winning Oxford Universityteam in the 1964 Varsity match. 
"Logan Mair, Norman and Lewine’s second child and older son, gave a brilliant eulogy about his father. It was witty, precise and informative, revealing. among many other things, that his grandfather, Norman’s father, had been Profess of Greek at Edinburgh University.  
"Tea was provided in the school library afterwards where Lewine held court with her injured foot still clad in a black boot following her accident down in Dubai last month.
"Memorial services or thanksgivings for a person’s life can be very good. This one was. Norman would have been proud."



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