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College pays tribute to former President and leading surgeon

19 Dec 2023

Colin MacKay CBE FRCS(Glas), a Past President of the College and a retired consultant surgeon, has died aged 87

The College community has paid tribute to former President Colin MacKay, who died on Sunday (17 December 2023).

Mr MacKay was President of the College from 1997-2000, overseeing its 400th anniversary celebrations in 1999.

During his distinguished career, he was a renowned gastro-intestinal surgeon, and he also served as a College Council member and Treasurer. He was awarded the CBE in 2000 for services to medicine.

Portrait of Mr. Colin MacKay, President 1997-2000. Anne H. Mackintosh, 2000.

The College lowered its flags outside its building in the heart of Glasgow as a mark of respect.

Mike McKirdy, President of the College, said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Colin MacKay, a leading figure in surgery and a well-known and respected former President.

“He was renowned for his technical skill as a surgeon and his commitment to comprehensive patient care. He was also known for his great diplomacy and good humour. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his wife Helen and his family at this sad time.”

Educated at Hillhead High School in Glasgow, Mr MacKay graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1961, and trained in the West of Scotland – with the exception of a year in Boston where he held a Medical Research Council Travelling Fellowship.

Following his return to Scotland, he spent 26 years as a consultant surgeon at the Western Infirmary and Gartnavel General Hospital. In addition to his clinical work, he was involved in teaching, research and education, and served on public bodies including the Greater Glasgow Health Board and the General Medical Council.

Colin MacKay (foreground centre right). College Council 1999, Alan Sutherland.

He retired from clinical practice in 1996 when he was elected President of the College. Following his Presidency, he became the Chair of the UHI Millennium Institute Board of Governors from 2001-2009, during a period in which UHI developed from being a project to a higher education institution. He was awarded one of the first Honorary Fellowships from UHI (the University of the Highlands and Islands) in 2012.

He is survived by his wife Helen, a retired specialist in care of the elderly medicine, and their three grown-up children, Colin, Elspeth and Helen.

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