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Tim Macpherson - 1936-1986

On 9th May 1986, the Newark Advertiser announced ‘The Managing Director of Associated British Maltsters Ltd of Newark, Mr Tim Macpherson (50) and his wife Mouse (45) and their daughter Iona (20) were named this week as the British victims of the terrorist bomb that wrecked an Air Lanka airline at Colombo airport, 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. Detail of his life, the setting up of the Trust, and its brief so far are outlined below.

Timothy Alexander Austin Macpherson. A Scot, born in Calcutta, India on March 18th 1936, he was educated at Sedbergh School. His final exam were not that promising except his leadership skills shone out, he joined The Black Watch as a National Service private, after two years he was asked if he wanted to further his army career and he replied he wanted to be a lumberjack in Canada but was persuaded to go on 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 one time adjutant to Lt Col Colin (Mad Mitch) Mitchell.

At the age of 26, an accident caused him to change his career. Whilst on SAS selection he seriously damaged his knee, which caused the Army medical board to permanently down grade him, so rather than stay and be less active, Tim left the army and joined Associated British Maltsters in 1962.

During his army career he met and married Mouse Higham. She was vivacious, a talented artist (in 1957 she was the youngest artist since Turner to Exhibit at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition). Mouse and Tim were the perfect complement and foils to each other.

The Family Man

Tim and Mouse had three daughters, Louie, Kate and Iona. Tim took great interest in all their activities. The girls were encouraged to be independent, inquisitive, and to travel. Mouse and he were role models, adventurously leading by example. All three daughters inherited their parents “joie de vivre”

They were all accomplished riders and spend holidays together in the wilds of West coast Scotland and other isolated places, fishing, bird watching and observing nature. Most of all they were joyously happy in their own company. There are many stories to be told about Mouse and their daughters, 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 started his career as a trainee barley buyer, under the guidance of Mr Leslie Thompson at the Company’s malting’s in Wallingford. His tenacious application and dedication soon made him an acknowledged expert and he was moved to Head Office in Newark where he became Materials Director, responsible for buying malting barley up and down the country, including Scotland, for the company which at that time was the largest malting company in the UK.

His career progressed further becoming Assistant Managing Director where 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, and in 1980 was appointed Managing Director.

He served as chairman of the institute of Brewing Barley Judging committee, chairman of the Maltster’s Association of Great Britain, and represented UK’s interests as a member of the Home Grown Cereals Authority, attending many European Brewing Conventions abroad and at Euromalt in Brussels.

Saturday 3rd May 1986

On Saturday 3rd May 1986, Tim, Mouse and Iona their youngest were killed. They were innocent victims of terrorist action in Sri Lanka.

The Macphersons had so much more to achieve and Tim Macpherson will always be remembered in the Malting trade with great respect, a true gentleman but a shrewd professional member of the malting Industry.

In Memoriam

Shocked and stunned was the reaction within the industry. Letter 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.

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

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’

The remainder and any future donations to be held in an Investment fund, the interest from which provides scholarships for young people within the industry.


This address can also be used to find out more information about the Trust Scholarships.