Neil McPherson 1951 - 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New JHT logo

NEIL MCPHERSON 1951 – 2015

Neil 1

After suffering ill health centred on diabetes and kidney failure for many years, Neil sadly lost his long fought battle on February 17, 2015 at the age of 63.  Neil had been the Administrator for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust since 2003 making him one of the longest serving members of the team.  He will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and friends.

Neil Logan McPherson was born on May 12, 1951 in the town of Barrhead in the county of Renfrew, Scotland.  His father James was a production superintendent and had married Neil’s mother Evelyn in 1944.  Neil was brought up and educated in Scotland where he attended Lockerbie Academy at which he obtained SCE Highers in English and Geography.  He then went on to take an HND course in Catering & Hotel Keeping at the Napier College of Science and Technology in Edinburgh.

This led on to an early career spent in the hotel and leisure industry which saw Neil moving from Scotland to Newcastle, then Horsham, York and London before a stint as Marketing Manager for Ladbroke Hotels, based in Watford from 1985 - 1988.  This was where Neil honed his financial, marketing and entrepreneurial skills which encouraged him to take the challenging step of running a hotel of his own – The Cullen Bay Hotel at Buckie, Banffshire, back up in his homeland of Scotland.  He and his wife Sandra ran this 14 bedroom hotel from 1988 until 1994, developing it into a business with a £500,000 annual turnover.  The hotel was given a 4-Crown classification by the Scottish Tourist Board in 1992 and Neil also became Chairman of the Moray Tourist Board from 1992-93.

In 1994 they decided to sell up and Neil subsequently moved back down to the West Midlands and continued in the hotel industry for a while, but then became a self-employed tourist industry consultant.  During this time Neil also became a volunteer for the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, satisfying his life-long passion for Jaguar cars.  

After three years of mixing his voluntary activities for the Trust with part time work as a Tourism Adviser, Neil was asked in 2000 if he would take charge of the trackside merchandising activities in support of Jaguar’s foray into the exciting world of Formula One.  This was a job that he relished as it took him to many interesting places and gave him the chance to use his interpersonal skills to the full, selling merchandise to the F1 fans and keeping his various helpers motivated through the often long and gruelling race weekends.

Finally, in 2003, an opportunity was created for Neil to become a full time member of the JDHT staff, and he was taken on as Administrator to work alongside Tony O’Keeffe who was the museum Curator.  In his early years in this role, Neil was very hands-on with the cars from the collection and supported many events – honing his driving and trailering skills in the process!  When not out and about, he set up computer systems and a proper filing system to keep track of all the JDHT vehicles and helped to develop a range of much needed policies and procedures.  He also took charge of managing the JDHT Museum building on the Browns Lane site following the closure of the factory.

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Neil with JDHT Volunteer Graham Stevens, dressed for
the part at the Goodwood Revival in 2009.

During this time, Neil was unlucky to develop some kidney problems which eventually led to him having to undergo regular dialysis.  This somewhat curtailed his ability to support events, but he continued to run the office in his normal cheery manner.  He also became the main point of contact for many of the enquiries that came in to the Trust for event support or other heritage related activities – developing a wide network of contacts and friends in the clubs, media and across the wider Jaguar Land Rover organisation in the process.

In the summer of 2013 he was struck down with a nasty infection that led to a long period in hospital during which he underwent two major operations to replace a faulty heart valve.  He returned to work in February 2014 and seemed to have made a remarkable recovery, but some of the underlying problems began to reappear earlier this year – exacerbated by a build-up of potassium that caused a further heart failure in late January.  He was re-admitted to the Walsgrave hospital on February 7 where his condition deteriorated and the medical staffs were not able to help him any further.

Neil leaves two sons and a daughter, Rory, Duncan and Bethanay, a brother Alex and sister Kath; we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to them and Neil’s wider circle of family and friends.  We have lost a valuable colleague and friend, who will be remembered for his ready supply of anecdotes about one or other aspect of his varied life (always delivered in his cheery and sometimes colourful Scottish brogue), and his deep passion for Formula One and all things Jaguar.