In Memory of Danny MacNeill BEM JP
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“Although this is principally a sad day, on which we mourn Danny’s passing, it is also an opportunity for us to celebrate his life which touched and enriched us all,” said George Foulkes MP last Saturday morning. He was giving the eulogy for former Provost of Kyle & Carrick District Council Danny MacNeill BEM JP during Requiem Mass held in the Sacred Heart Church, Girvan. The service was conducted by Canon Eugene Mathews assisted by three concelebrants. Mr Foulkes added that it was a “great privilege to have been asked by the family to say a few words about Danny on behalf of his multitude of friends”.

He also extended everyone’s good wishes to Agnes, Danny’s wife, who had taken ill following his death and was in the Western General Hospital in Glasgow and unable to attend the funeral.

“I have known Danny for nearly 30 years,” continued Mr Foulkes, “since I became the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South Ayrshire. He was extremely supportive and this was typically generous considering that he had an ambition to follow that route himself. I am sure if that had been fulfilled he would have made an excellent Member of Parliament.”

Danny was called up in 1946 and joined the Royal Engineers, resettling prisoners of war. After his National Service, on being demobbed, he joined British Rail. He naturally joined the National Union of Railwaymen and worked his way up to union representative and then became the local union secretary, service for which he received the British Empire Medal.

“Danny was, in my view,” added Mr Foulkes, “the best kind of union official – neither subservient to the employer nor militant, but fighting strongly, honestly and successfully on behalf of the members he represented.” He went on, “However, it was in the community of Girvan, where he has lived since 1931, and the wider field of South Ayrshire politics that Danny made his mark.”

“Locally he was one of the most active members of this church as a devout and active Christian; as chairman of the Girvan Sports Association; as a Justice of the Peace – all of which were recognised when he became Carrick Citizen of the Year.” Mr Foulkes the spoke about Danny’s time as Kyle & Carrick councillor for Maybole and quoted Ian Welsh, Council Leader at the time.

“Although he served Maybole,” Mr Welsh had said, “his writ extended down beyond Girvan and from 1984 until 1996, when he demitted office, he ensured that the language and landscape of Carrick became well known to us all. Not the only councillor, not the only community activist, nevertheless it was he who began the process of ensuring that South Carrick was heard in a much more effective way.”

Mr Welsh had added, “As a colleague, in power and in opposition, he was loyal, wise, compassionate, supportive and encouraging in crisis, and always conscious of the main task at hand – improving the lives of all the people we all lived amongst but especially ensuring that the needs were addressed of the disadvantaged, the disabled, the frail, the vulnerable, the elderly and those who were socially excluded.”

Mr Foulkes continued, “In 1988, when Labour won control, there was only going to be one choice for Provost and that was Danny MacNeill. He was dubbed the Peoples’ Provost and, although he remained an active and committed local councillor, he realised the over-riding importance of the Provost’s civic role.”

“With Agnes committing herself wholeheartedly by his side, he took the Council to the people in a new way. He never refused an engagement and pro-actively brought individuals and organisations into the Council. One of the most direct ways was when he organised his ‘Provost for a Day’ scheme for schoolchildren – civic education in action for a host of schoolchildren across the area.” “If I can add on my own account,” said Mr Foulkes, “Danny combined in his role as Provost dignity and warmth in a way which has never been bettered. As a local councillor he is still remembered in Maybole with affection and respect. A popular politician - an unusual concept!”

He added, “When Danny retired from local politics a dinner was held in his honour in the King’s Arms. We made a mistake – it should have been in a bigger venue because people from all walks of life queued to attend the function. It was an occasion of celebration and also of fun.” “Above all,” continued Mr Foulkes, “Danny was a family man. He was rightly so proud of each of the seven children he and Agnes had since their marriage in 1951 and their fourteen grandchildren all of whom brought him great joy and of whom he was very proud.”

In conclusion Mr Foulkes said, “Danny was a man of great ability, and a modesty which masked it. He was a man of great kindness and compassion and found a myriad of ways of expressing them. He was also a wise man – I learned a lot from him over the years and I am sure all of you will have too.

The town and the county have lost a great servant. All of us have lost a real friend. Above all his family have lost a kind and loving husband, brother, father and grandfather. But we will always have his lasting legacy - for which we thank Danny MacNeill.”

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