Appreciation: David McLean

David McLean
David McLean

ONE of Berwick’s leading businessmen, David McLean, died recently at the age of 64

David was born in Berwick on November 24, 1948 and was the youngest of three children, after his sister Helen and brother Gordon. He was educated at The Parade and The Bell Tower schools and upon leaving started work as an apprentice plumber with McAdam. Always the entrepreneur, David ran weekend buses to Haggerston Castle dances and had an early morning milk round.

In 1971, David started out on his own, creating McLean Plumbing and Heating. He expanded into the building trade, forming the companies McLean Contracts and McLean Properties. He was a very successful businessman and was one of the biggest employers in Berwick and the Borders. Through his work, David has left many permanent legacies to the town, including Sidey Court, a complex he built on the site of the old Avenue Hotel in Marygate and named in honour of Leslie Sidey, an ex-sheriff and mayor of Berwick. In addition, for David’s last major construction job before retirement, the Brucegate Freeman development, he received an award from the Berwick Civic Society. David also created McLean Travel, with his first wife Audrey, in 1982, and branched out, with shops in Berwick, Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick and Galashiels. He sold this business to the Co-operative Travelcare Group in 1989.

After a successful career, David retired from McLean Contracts in 2003. However, not one to rest on his laurels, he and his second wife, Shirley, opened The Elizabethan Townhouse, situated on the walls in Berwick. This allowed David an avenue to continue working, meeting people, and sharing the love for his hometown.

David was a longstanding member of the Freemasons and after being initiated in 1973, he was installed as Master of Berwick St George Lodge in 1980. He was also a Past Master of St Cuthbert’s Mark Lodge. He visited the Masonic Lodge in Las Vegas in 1983, and was warmly welcomed by the Bretheren.

David was always late but never absent! He loved all sports, particularly football and horse racing. He revelled in his trips to the races, particularly to the Ebor meeting at York Races every August. He was one of a six-member syndicate, which bought a racehorse called Our Louise, winning eight races out of 14. He was also a member of the Mikta racing syndicate with his dear friend Peter Jenkinson from Edinburgh. Recently, on his last visit to Kelso Races, after a lifetime trying, David went through the card by backing seven winners out of seven!

He regularly attended boxing matches at the Albany Hotel in Glasgow and travelled to many sporting events around the world with friends and family, including grand prix races, rugby matches, and was fortunate enough to attend several World Cup football matches in the USA, Spain, Mexico and France. David was a loyal Manchester United supporter, but also followed Newcastle United and, of course, Berwick Rangers.

In the early 1990s, during a particularly challenging time for Berwick Rangers, David offered his services to aid their survival. It was at this point that Friends of Berwick Rangers Football Club was set up. David, along with his personal secretary, Marjorie Thompson, and his solicitor, Colin Edney, dedicated a great deal of time to its cause and he eventually became chairman of Berwick Rangers in February 1992. It was his wish to only remain in this role until the crisis at the club was over, however, and he resigned in June 1992. During this short time he was responsible, with the board, for the turnaround of the club.

Although David was a global traveller, for the last few years David has been in love with Portugal and enjoyed many holidays in Alvor, a small fishing village, with Shirley. David lived in many homes over the years, and despite his travels, he never ever forgot his roots and always took pride in reminding everyone that he was an ‘Abyssinian’... a Highfields boy born and bred.

In recent years, he formed the Spittal Youth Club with Colin Edney, Willie Heckles, Jimmy Rowan and Davy Scott, who met with former landlord Colin Mole at The Salmon at East Ord every Thursday night. The sounds of hilarity from these ancient teenagers could be heard as far away as Berwick!

It is a mark of the man, and his constitution, that he never ever succumbed willingly to anything. At the end, he waited so that he could welcome his daughter and her children arriving from the USA.

After a period of ill health, David died on November 25, the day after his 64th birthday. He is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Sarah and son Michael. He also leaves behind four adored grandchildren: Laura, Jamie, Olivia and Camille.

In conclusion, David just wanted everyone to appreciate that he was, and will always remain, a true Berwicker.

AWC