Tribute to Lachie Aird (25 June 1924 to 17 November 2020) by Willie Young
I am really struggling to know where to begin writing this brief tribute to Lachie Aird. Whenever you attempt to write about someone who is known to and revered by so many people, and whose life has touched and influenced others, it becomes immediately apparent to an amateur such as me that whatever is written will be woefully inadequate. You who have known Lachie over the years have your personal memories safely tucked away inside you. So, I hope that those who may read this will forgive me for the things I don’t say. (My thoughts are personal too).
As a boy growing up in Bellshill, the Salvation Army was the place I came to meet and join with my friends. There was always much to do and be involved in, and plenty of adults around to encourage us. Without always realising it, we were motivated by people who were prepared to make personal sacrifices on our behalf; people whose feet were placed firmly on the ground, who had no pretentions of wealth or any form of social or intellectual grandeur, but who brought their humanity into every situation and shared it with us.
Such a person was Lachie. Lachie Aird was to us an outstanding example of consistency and reliability; a Christian who expressed his faith in the way he treated others; someone who demonstrated the attributes of tolerance, understanding and compassion. And I have cause, amongst all the other reasons, to love and respect that man, to be grateful for his intervention when, after enduring a miserable Friday afternoon at school with a fragment of grit in my eye, he, at the boys club, with the aid of a matchstick, turned my eyelid inside out and retrieved the offending foreign body to give instant relief. (I would gladly have kept that concrete block for posterity had it not been so tiny!) On another occasion, after being the victim of an accident on my way to the boys club, and the police traced me by following the trail of blood to the hall, Lachie was the person who took control in his efficient and unflappable way, and “cleaned me up” – he never knew how much that meant.
Not all of Lachie’s work was with the younger generation. Known and respected as a competent baritone player and vocal soloist with a rich and appealing voice, he served in Bellshill Band and Songsters for most of his adult life, and his ministry, whether in meetings or in concerts, always brought an appreciative and thoughtful response. If space permitted, I could add much more to these memories… perhaps I should leave this to Irene and Jim.
As I write, my mind recalls another Lachie I once met. During the late 1960’s I worked in Glasgow. My colleague, Ian, and I used to watch two sportsmen running across the Jamaica Bridge: one was Dick McTaggart, the other Lachie Stewart. As part of their daily training both men would run to and from work each day. Those of you whose memories go back to that decade will recall that Dick was a boxer (one of the finest and most stylish the world has ever seen), and Lachie was a track athlete. Both competed internationally and at Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Lachie’s career put him up against the best runners of the time – Frank Clements, John Walker, David Moorcroft, Kip Kena, et al – often winning his races. Unlike many sportsmen ad sportswomen today, people like Lachie and Dick were reluctant, nor were they encouraged to speak about their successes and achievements; they just got on with the business of working hard and modestly doing their best.
Today, like Lachie Stewart and his fellow athletes, Lachie’s (our Lachie’s) race has been run. No less an “athlete” in his own way, Lachie’s influence lies at the foundations of Bellshill Corps; his modesty a lesson for us all; his faithfulness and example a guiding light which shines today in the lives of many.
God bless you, Lachie, for what you did for me and my friends. Many a young life has cause to be grateful for your influence … an influence which goes beyond two hours fun on a Friday evening and a game of twenty – a – side on a summer football pitch.
In the second photo below, Lachie is pictured sitting holding his baritone.