Remembering Stuart MacQuarrie, SAMH Trustee

13th December 2023

Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie joined the SAMH Trustee Board on 29 August 2019 and served until his sad and untimely passing on 27 November 2023. When he was recruited, it was evident Stuart had been no stranger to SAMH, having undertaken several of our training courses in previous roles, most notably in suicide prevention – including ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) – which was a passion of his for decades, as well as wider mental health concerns. He also engaged with us during the many years of his Chaplaincy at the University of Glasgow. 

His understanding, experience, kindness and conviction to values matching our own made this such a great relationship both ways. Stuart’s appetite to get going with gusto after his appointment was impressive, and sadly disrupted somewhat by the onset of the pandemic. However, as SAMH continued to deliver all our supports and services in remote or socially distanced ways during that period, Stuart’s encouragement and wisdom, aligned with his fellow Board members, was a great source of solace. 

While necessarily concerning himself with good governance as a Trustee, Stuart always had people, and beneficiaries of our services in particular, foremost in his mind. He could ground discussions in a way that always helped us remain community-focused. He was particularly helpful in connecting us to marginalised and inter-faith communities around Glasgow and beyond. Politically astute, as a former elected representative in local government, he encouraged and valued the importance of SAMH’s campaigning and influencing work, always on hand and in attendance at the key moments and in the key places. 

Behind the scenes Stuart did a lot of for the cause. He helped us set up the SAMH ‘in memoriam’ programme and a tribute site, On Our Minds, to remember loved ones and support Scotland's mental health. Stuart also blogged about the Ask Them About Suicide campaign and wrote a heart-warming piece about his journey to being a SAMH Trustee. 

Stuart was genuine in his thoughts about SAMH. Here are just a few examples, in his own words, shared with me over the years: 

  • “The breath and scope of SAMH is quite breath-taking at times.” 
  • “Now we move to celebrate the 100 years SAMH has sensitively contributed to and led support for those who have had concerns over their mental health and those who care for them. And its place in the leadership of suicide prevention and response to those bereaved by suicide.” 
  • “In all of this, being a SAMH Trustee is one of the most fulfilling roles I’ve had.” 
  • “Some 18 years ago I took part in ASIST training. The point of learning not only that it was OK to ask about suicide, but that it was essential and validated where the person’s life was, for me one of those lightbulb moments.” 

Stuart touched the lives of so many people through his work. Here are some notes of tribute from his fellow Trustees, on his passing: 

  • “We were fortunate indeed to have known Stuart via his thoughtful, expert and dedicated contributions to the SAMH Board. He will be a great loss to the world.” 
  • “My thoughts are with Stuart’s family and friends. My experience of Stuart in my time so far has been of a very kind and passionate man, and I very much believe his passing is of great loss to the Trustee Board.” 
  • “Stuart was fantastic company and I have thoroughly enjoyed time spent with him. He was so kind-hearted, warm and welcoming.”  

We will miss Stuart greatly in all his contributions. Professionally, for those key inputs across the mental health agenda, of course, but also personally, for his fantastic storytelling – often football-related – and occasional musings on Brompton folding bicycles!   

All our thoughts are with Stuart’s family now and in the future, we hope we can remain connected.