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Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society

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Tributes to SAGS board member Andrew Reid

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of our friend and colleague, Andrew Reid in April.

Andrew had been ill for a while, but carried on, with energy and vigour for as long as he could.  

The SAGS board has been inundated with messages of condolence. As an appropriate tribute, we called on former colleagues of his to give us their thoughts of Andrew; the man, the SAGS board member and the gardener.

 

Former President, Mandy Fooks writes;

“Those of us who knew Andrew through SAGS and the allotment fraternity will miss a loved and trusted friend. We’ll miss his smile, his calm and capable handling of our business affairs and his ability to explain them in simple terms. I have happy memories of enjoyable meetings and his good company when things were going well (which was most of the time) and his calmness and good sense during the difficult times.

I remember him in a three piece suit, the smartest man in the room at one gathering. Another plotholder, who favoured the bush hat, shorts, hairy knees and sandals look, had claimed that he didn’t dress the part, so he upped the style game. We would have trusted him implicitly in suit or safari gear!

I remember two other passions - rugby and a good pie. We could work around the competition match fixtures, no problem. And as for the pies, well, meetings in Perth yielded acceptable Tower Bakery pies, but it is Dunblane, (which offers a wealth of choice from the independent butchers) that will always be linked in my mind to Andrew and him shopping for the best pies!

This spring when, more than ever, we don’t know what the future holds for us,  I do wish that Andrew could be a part of it going forward, hopefully to a time when everyone who wants a plot can find a plot. He would have enjoyed sharing his knowledge with an ever expanding group of plotholders. Maybe having a quiet smoke and a chat about life, gardening and rugby.”

 

Another former SAGS Trustee, Jenny Mollison also recalls Andrew’s sense of occasion and his love of rugby and pies.

“Andrew accompanied me to countless events in Holyrood and elsewhere, and could always be relied on to look and act the part!  Andrew was a Borderer and jumped at opportunities to go to events there. I remember in particular going with him to the grand opening of the Yetholm village allotments, near Kelso which had had a re-furbishment. After the formalities with dignitaries, the plotholders staged a splendid barbecue and it was quite hard to prise Andrew away.


He carried out a huge and underestimated job as membership and treasurer and I remember how he just got on with what must have been monumental administrative tasks, often at short notice, particularly when we were working our way through the Community Empowerment legislation.  I never heard him complain”

 

Andrew’s long-time friend and Inverleith Allotment committee colleague, Stuart McKenzie has kindly allowed us to publish the eulogy written for Andrew’s funeral in May.

I’ve known Andrew really ever since I rented my first allotment from Edinburgh Council many years ago. Back then I didn’t know him, but I did know OF him.

I occasionally attended city-wide meetings of the Allotment Federation where blokes would complain bitterly about their water supply, their paths, really anything they could complain about. These discussions would get really heated until someone slowly put his hand in the air. Silence.

He would use very few words, but just enough to completely defuse the situation, and everyone would calm down and reconsider what they were so irate about just moments before. Who was that paragon of sensibility?

Ten years later, my site was closed down and I managed to be transferred to Inverleith allotments. Sometime afterwards, I was invited to join the committee where I got to know that paragon of sensibility, Andrew. In fact, I still think he had a lot to do with my election to President – whilst I was away on holiday.

But I’m so glad he did. Andrew was our Treasurer for many years. We’ve worked together on all sorts of projects to improve both the site at Inverleith but also allotments nationally. His common-sense approach helped us get an old shipping container converted into a classroom for visiting school children, also ideal for committee meetings. We built raised beds, compost bins and had great fun emptying them. We were never too old for a second childhood.

As well as being our Treasurer, Andrew also looked after the site order of seed potatoes and onion sets each year, bulk buying saves money for our plotholders. For the last 15 years Andrew had order forms printed, distributed and looked after everyone’s orders. This year we shifted over 200 bags of potatoes – that’s half a tonne of spuds.

One tribute amongst many sent to me said –

We have very fond memories of him, keeping us all on track with his sound accounting and bookkeeping skills, his breadth of knowledge about gardening, that bone dry sense of humour and reliability at organising both the potato and onion order, as well as the liquid refreshments for the various social gatherings. We used to marvel at his immaculate dress sense.  

Yes, we’re missing our Treasurer, potato merchant and smartly dressed victualler. We are so thankful to have known such a great man.

Andrew also brought his skills to our national allotment body: Scottish Allotments. He was their treasurer too and brought the same skills to help produce a series of guides in how to establish new allotment sites, a planning guide and also projects to better equip sites in disadvantaged areas of Scotland with new tools. He travelled the country to visit people in their allotment sites, problem solving and just enjoying meeting similarly minded people.

Of greater and lasting importance, Andrew helped influence the creation of the Community Empowerment Act. This gives citizens more powers and our public sector authorities new duties to provide allotments to satisfy the demand for the healthy, outdoor pastime Andrew enjoyed so much.

Andrew and I often travelled to meetings on the train. Dunblane was one place we visited to talk allotments. We’d get off the train and walk through the town pausing at John Hills butchers and pie shop. There he would buy a pair of steak pies for his lunch which he quietly enjoyed whilst those with sandwiches looked on covetously.

Andrew, you will be sorely missed, the allotment community across Scotland salute you.