Tributes after ice-cream king Maitland Mackie dies

TRIBUTES have been paid to the chairman of the Mackie’s ice-cream company, who has died following a short illness.

Monday, 2nd June 2014, 9:53 am
Maitland Mackie at Westertown farm in Aberdeenshire in 1993. Picture: TSPL

Dr Maitland Mackie, 77, who was the owner of the family-run firm, was rector of Aberdeen University and a former vice-president of the National Farmers Union in Scotland. He was also a Liberal Democrat candidate in the first Scottish Parliament elections, topping the party list for the north-east region, but after the party won three constituency seats in the area, he failed to make it to Holyrood.

The family said yesterday that he “died peacefully with his family” on Saturday at his home on Westertown Farm, Aberdeenshire. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumour just two weeks after the death in February of his wife of 52 years, Halldis Mackie, a former GP.

Paying tribute to the businessman, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Maitland brought wit, colour and energy to everything he did.

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“His highly successful company made him one of the best-known business figures in the north-east and beyond but his interests extended further than that. He was one of the first to recognise the real significance both for the economy and local communities of Scotland’s wind power potential. And, of course, he was a formidable campaigner politically and on local issues where I had the pleasure of working with him.”

Dr Mackie had been instrumental in helping to reform farming in Scotland. During his time with the NFU, he established the farm assurance movement, a certification scheme which introduced independent, on-farm auditing of animal welfare. His move into the ice-cream business was prompted by a move towards semi-skimmed milk away from full fat. The cream removed from the milk was turned into what has become a household brand of ice-cream.

His three children, Karin, Kirstin and Mac all now hold senior roles in the firm.

Latterly, Dr Mackie was an ardent advocate of renewable energy, in particular wind energy, giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee.

Others figures from Scottish politics paid tribute to Dr Mackie and his achievements in Scottish agriculture. Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said he had been “the driving force in making Mackie’s such a household name and such a successful Scottish company”.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “Maitland Mackie stood out in so many fields … All of us in the Liberal family will miss him.”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, who had campaigned alongside him in the run-up to the 1999 Holyrood election, said: “He was no lover of orthodoxy.”