Don lived in Millbank Road, Cupar when he was at school. Here is his story.
I left Bell Baxter with two Lower Certificates in English and Agriculture, luckily, my following on sisters, Kathleen, Sheila and Elizabeth restored the family honour. I was, however, awarded my football ‘dates’ playing outside left for the First XI 1953/54, 1954/55.
(1955/58) It was off into the RAF for National Service although I signed up for three years. The most interesting period was being ordered out, at very short notice, to RAF Luqa, Malta as the Suez crisis began. The 12 hour trip was made in the back of an Avro Shackleton, NO seats, NO heating. Let’s see Ryanair beat that. I started my goalkeeping career playing for RAF Hemswell also played for the station's tennis team.
(1958/62) Following ‘weary Willie’ Wilson's (Head of BB Technical Dept.) letter of appeal, I was permitted to leave the RAF two months early to begin a 3 year National Diploma in Agriculture course at Bell Baxter Further Education night school. I did the practical at the same time on John Roger's farm Rumgally outside Cupar. This was also set up by Mr Wilson. I successfully managed to FAIL all parts of the final exam, except for Farm Management. Too interested in girls and playing in goal for Cupar Hearts FC to devote sufficient time to swotting. Although I really enjoyed working on the farm as a student, I had to find another career.
(1962/63) Following up an advertisement in the Dundee Courier, it was off to India as an Assistant Manager on a Tea Estate in the Central Dooars right up in the very north of that vast country. Again I really enjoyed the work and the leisure time continuing my goalkeeping exploits along with tennis and lots of social drinking at the various Tea Planters clubs. It was, however, obvious very early on that the days of the white man/British Raj were coming to an end. I decided I should return to the UK sooner rather than later.
I learnt one valuable lesson whilst I was out there and that was there was no such thing as true poverty in Britain, at least, not at that time. A few weeks in India was enough to clear that up.
(1963/95) On return I joined the Potato Marketing Board and there I remained, working out of offices throughout the UK, until enforced early retirement in 1995 although continuing to do some part time crop statistical work for the next two years.
(1997/2004) I concluded my working life, firstly as a part time Property Factor with a local solicitor's office in Aberdeen and later as a part time Field Officer with The Scottish Landowners Federation.
Apart from my working career with the PMB I continued to play in goal for a number of teams in Eastern England retiring from the game in 1976.
Between marriages in the early 80s I followed up my interest in aviation, kindled in the RAF, by qualifying as a private pilot on single engine aircraft with the Dundee Flying Club. My interest in flight continued with trips on Concorde, a hot air balloon and a glider, the last two 70th birthday presents. Having also been a motor racing fan for most of my life I was lucky enough to ‘race’ a single seater race car at Knockhill in 2011.
My two marriages have given me four daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren all much treasured.
Bell Baxter has cropped up throughout my life. When in India I met a BBFP - who was an ex-boyfriend of one of my sisters. Whilst with the PMB I met, in Huntingdon, Mr Seath, the science teacher who I had been terrified of at school. Surprise, surprise; he was the nicest of men. The origin of my terror was being warned by him ‘MacKenzie, if your hand writing does not improve over the next few days you will get the belt.’ I have on many occasions since then been complimented on my neat handwriting!
I attended the initial Bell Baxter reunion (for the Centenary, Ed.) and later the 1949 class get-together. Also the first CDDR gathering in 1996 and the subsequent 70th birthday outing in 2008, hopefully there will be a further outing in 2013 for our 75th. CDDR, by the way, is four OLD BB boys who have kept in touch on and off over the last 60 years. So cheers to Colin Crichton, Duncan Stirling and Ronnie King. I make up the other D.
Editor’s note: We do not have a record of whether the intrepid four celebrated their 75thbirthdays together, but they were certainly all present and correct – though in the wrong order – at Reunion 125 in June 2014, as evidenced by the photograph above. From left to right: Don MacKenzie, Duncan Stirling, Ron King and Colin Crichton.
Douglas MacKenzie (1982) died very suddenly on 3rd November 1997 in Glasgow. Douglas studied medicine in Glasgow on leaving school. He underwent major heart surgery after completing his studies, but made an excellent recovery and resumed his career and his sporting activities.
Mrs Elspeth Neilands (née McKenzie) (first year in the mid 1930s) died suddenly on 21st March 1996.
Euphemia McKenzie (mid-1940s) died on 12th January 2001 in Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, after a spell of ill-health. She worked first with Fisher & Donaldson in Cupar, moving later to Alexander's bus garage. She gave up work to look after her elderly parents and her brother. She lived in Pitlessie, where she was a member of the local Welfare Committee. She was also active in the WRI, serving both as member of the Committee and as Treasurer, and she was a life-long member of Cults Kirk.