About Tim Macpherson


Tim Macpherson

On 9th May 1986, the Newark Advertiser announced 'The Managing Director of Associated British Maltsters Ltd of Newark, Mr Tim Macpherson (50), his wife Deirdre (45) and their daughter Iona (20) were named this week as the British victims of the terrorist bomb that wrecked a holiday airline in Colombo, Sri Lanka.'

Such was the respect held within the malting industry that a Memorial Trust was set up to remember and perpetuate the name of Tim Macpherson. Details of his life, the setting up of the Trust, and its brief history so far, are outlined below


Tim Macpherson - 1936-1986

Timothy Alexander Austen Macpherson, a Scot, was born on 18th March in India, educated at Sedbergh with a desire to become a regular soldier in a Highland Regiment.

He joined the Black Watch as a National Service private, then to Eaton Hall and the Military Academy, Sandhurst, before being commissioned into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

He served with distinction in Cyprus, Germany and Aden and was sometime adjutant to Lt Col Colin (Mad Mitch) Mitchell.

At the age of 25 years, an accident caused him to change his career.

Whilst on an SAS selection course he seriously damaged his knee, which caused the Army medical board to permanently downgrade him so, rather than stay and be less active, Tim left the Army and joined Associated British Maltsters in 1961.

During his army career he had met and married Deirdre Higham, always known as Mouse. She was vivacious, a talented artist (in 1956 she was the youngest academician) and was much accomplished. Mouse and Tim were perfect complements and foils to each other.

Their three daughters, Louise, Kate and Iona all inherited their parents 'joie de vivre'

Mouse and her daughters have interesting stories to be told, but they are beyond the scope of this outline which concentrates on Tim Macpherson and the Trust set up to remember him.

The Malting Industry
Tim joined Associated British Maltsters as a trainee barley buyer. His tenacious application soon made him an acknowledged expert. He was appointed Materials Director, with the responsibility of buying malting barley - the industry's raw material, for the then largest malting company in the UK.

Within ABM, his career progressed. At different times he was responsible for malt production and selling the end product. He became well known and respected within the farming, brewing, and distilling industries throughout the world.

In 1980, he was appointed Managing Director of the company.

He served as chairman of the Institute of Brewing Barley Judging committee, chairman of the Maltsters' Association of Great Britain, and represented UK's interests as a member of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, and at Euromalt in Brussels.

The Family man
He loved his wife and family, and took a great interest in all their activities. The girls were encouraged to be independent and inquisitive, and to travel.

Mouse and he were role models, adventurously leading by example.

They would ride, shoot and spend holidays together in the wilds of North Scotland and other isolated places, fishing, bird watching and observing nature. Most of all they were joyously happy in their own company.

Saturday 3rd May 1986
On Saturday 3rd May 1986, Tim, Mouse and their youngest daughter were killed.

They were innocent victims of terrorist action in Sri Lanka. Their Tri-Star airline, awaiting take off at Colombo, was ripped apart by a terrorist planted bomb, killing 18 others.

The Macphersons had so much more to achieve.

In Memoriam
Shock and stunned was the reaction within the industry. Letters of condolence and tributes were received from around the world.

'we lose a guide, enjoyed everyone's esteem ..... one of the great personalities' (Belgium)

'not only a business associate, but a great friend. .... Cannot stress how much he will be missed' (France)

'a distinguished business leader (whose) loss will be felt by the whole malt industry to which he selflessly devoted himself over many years' (Japan)

'a great ambassador' , and, from a competitor:-'good friend ..... powerful competitor..... unbelievable energy and drive.... brilliantly held the malting industry together in difficult times....always the greatest fun.....and lived life to the full '

The MAGB unanimously decided that the loss of so important a figure should not be forgotten and a Trust should be set up to perpetuate his memory.

The then Chairman of the Maltsters' Association of Great Britain, Mr Bob Reed, wrote personal letters to all brewers, distillers, major grain merchants and their trade representatives, inviting them to donate to a central fund.

The Macpherson Memorial Trust
Over £60,000 was donated and in due time this money provided a permanent and ongoing memorial, namely:-

The Macpherson Memorial Lecture Room at Heriot Watt University and an Investment fund, the interest from which provides scholarships for young people within the industry.

DONATIONS TO THE MACPHERSON TRUST ARE STILL ACCEPTED by the Clerk to the Trustees. e-mail: tracy@magb.org.uk

This address can also be used for more information about the Trust Scholarships.

The Macpherson Memorial Lecture Room
On 23rd August 1990 £25,000 was donated to the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at the Heriot Watt University, and a new lecture room was dedicated to Tim Macpherson.


The memorial is apt. Tim would have approved. 'he had a youthful charm - and still a boy at heart'