Obituary: Lord Goold

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James Goold was a distinguished contributor to Scottish public life.

He discharged a doughty commitment to the Scottish Conservative Party, with involvement in his home constituency of Eastwood, where he was the Association Honorary President from 1978 to 1995, as Honorary Treasurer of the Party in Scotland 1981-83 and as Chairman of the Scottish Party 1983-90.

He presided over the Conservative Party in Scotland during challenging times, providing a wise and balanced stewardship. His was a counsel that political colleagues were always happy to seek, knowing that canny and sensible advice would be to hand, and he was a robust performer, admired by friends and political adversaries alike.

A chartered accountant by profession, he was born in 1934 and educated at Glasgow Academy. His early business career included a spell with Price Waterhouse & Co in Australia, before joining the well-known Scottish building company of Mactaggart & Mickel Ltd, as company secretary, in 1961.

He was to continue a lifelong association with that company, becoming a director in 1965 and chairman in 1993. Much respected by business colleagues for his shrewdness and acumen, he served as president of the Scottish Building Contractors Association in 1971 and of the Scottish Building Employers' Federation in 1977. He became Chairman of the CBI in Scotland in 1981, holding office until 1983. He was also a director of American Trust plc and Edinburgh Oil and Gas plc.

Other areas of service in public life included appointment as Deputy Lieutenant in the County of Renfrew in 1985, chairmanship of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra 1991-93, appointment as Chairman of the Court of Strathclyde University in 1993, the presidency of the Accord Hospice in Paisley and appointment as Lord- Lieutenant of Renfrewshire in 1994. He was knighted in 1983 and created a life peer in 1987.

Such a litany of achievement might be dismissed by some as just the paraphernalia of another public figure. That would be to misread, misjudge and quite wrongly diminish something very rare in today's world - a fine and a good man. A man whose attributes and talents were manifest because of what he was, without need of the appendages of office and position, but who, because of that, rightly deserved every accolade which was conferred upon him.

Goold was someone who could be bothered to bother about people. Whether in the milieu of business, politics, university or Lord-Lieutenancy, his enduring purpose was to serve others, a service which he performed with charm and a delightful sense of humour. It is no coincidence that colleagues in Mactaggart & Mickel should speak of a "thoughtful and generous man", "a man of resolute approach and high standards" and that the Principal of Strathclyde University, John Arbuthnott, should reflect on "Jim's absolute commitment to students and their welfare" and "his lightness of touch and sensitivity to the needs of others".

In his involvement with Strathclyde University, Goold is credited with being a significant influence in the development of the university in the last decade. It was perhaps in this role that his multiple talents were most visible. His business skills made him a highly effective Chairman of the University Business School Resources Board and his experience of the building industry, with his natural prudence, proved invaluable in the good management of the university properties. As Chairman of the Court, he demonstrated courtesy and sagacity, conducting meetings with despatch and fairness, and using to good effect his greatest strength, which was to bring out the best in others. The world of higher education had good reason to be grateful to this caring and well-informed man when he used his seat in the House of Lords to intervene and secure change, firstly to proposals which could have had a repressive effect on student unions and secondly, to proposals which could have gravely prejudiced the availability of local authority housing for overseas students.

As Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, he breathed life into a structure which some might regard as archaic and irrelevant. For him, attending the occasions demanded of that office was not a sterile obedience to some royal charter. It was the warm and human enactment of a welcome public duty in which he felt privileged to share in the significant celebrations, important to so many families.

At a time when it is fashionable to scoff at tradition and be critical of many of our institutions, Jim Goold, as he was known affectionately to all his colleagues and friends, should stand as an enduring testament to all that is best about public service. He would not have sought that, but that is how Scotland will remember him. As a business colleague of over 30 years standing observed, "He was a man of quiet compassion not flash with the trappings of success".

Annabel Goldie

James Duncan Goold, politician, businessman and chartered accountant: born 28 May 1934; chartered accountant, W.E.C. Reid & Co 1958-60; chartered accountant, Price Waterhouse & Co 1960; Secretary, Mactaggart and Mickel Ltd 1961-65, Director 1965-93, Chairman 1993-97; Chairman, CBI Scotland 1981-83; Honorary Treasurer, Scottish Conservative Party 1981-83, Chairman 1983-90; Kt 1983; created 1987 Baron Goold; Deputy Lieutenant of Renfrewshire 1985-94, Lord-Lieutenant 1994-97; Chairman of Court, Strathclyde University 1993-97; married 1959 Sheena Paton (died 1992; two sons, one daughter); died Glasgow 27 July 1997.