Liz Buchanan (formerly MacInnes, Nee Gillies) MBE, 1954-2022

Shinty has lost another one of its most significant individuals of the second half of the 20th century with the sudden death of Liz Buchanan (formerly MacInnes, nee Gillies). She died on Sunday, November 13 and had been living in Troon for many years.
Originally from Stornoway, Liz was a driving force in many areas of shinty’s key development years in the 1970s and 1980s and went on to have a distinguished career in tourism, for which she was awarded the MBE in 2011, having been a Regional Director of Visit Scotland for a number of years.
Along with Kenny Thomson, Jack Richmond and Douglas MacIntosh (and others such as John Henderson and Peter Cullen of Glenmorangie), Liz was one of the driving forces in a dynamic group which consolidated the development of the Shinty Yearbook (becoming joint editor in 1979), the Camanachd Association Referees’ Association and perhaps most fondly remembered of all, the late and lamented Aviemore indoor six a side tournament. She made her first mark in the Yearbook with an important historical article about the history of shinty in the Western Isles, co-authored with the great D R Macdonald of Skye. She later went on to give a memorable account of “a weekend in May” which detailed (some of) the events on one of the many epic trips undertaken by the Inverness shinty club and others to Killarney. Liz was, at various times towards the end of the 1970s secretary to the Inverness shinty club, joint Secretary of the North of Scotland shinty Association and secretary and Treasurer of the Referee’s Association, in the days when shinty sticks cost £14 a piece. She was also to become the first female Vice-President of the game’s Governing body, the Camanachd Association and was one of the most high-profIle women who contributed to the game well beyond the traditional, behind the scenes activities. She was instrumental in moving the perception of women “being a joke” as she put it herself, to becoming “a strong force in the world of sport in Scotland”. Women were no longer to be the “Shinty Widows” and it is to the great credit of Liz and others at the time that they blazed a trail against all the odds.
When she was appointed as one of the (unbelievgable these days) 20 honorary Vice Presidents of the CA in 1978, the Yearbook described Liz as “taking the world of shinty by storm.” She had brought “a welcome lease of life to an ageing administration, and “inimitable personality” and “belle of the Camanachd Association.” The great Willie Batchen said: “She is there absolutely on merit.” (She once took three stitches to the head in abortive attempt to take up the game in Inverness). She said herself she never wanted to be President but Liz MacInnes was arguably the best President shinty never had.
Shinty’s tribute has been led by Camanachd Association Chieftain John MacKenzie MBE. He said: “Liz was an integral part of the organising team at Aviemore and more than played her part in one of the most entertaining occasions of that era. We should never forget the volunteers of that period and the efforts they enthusiastically generated to ensure everyone’s enjoyment at that most historic gathering of shinty folk. RIP Liz. Your legacy and involvement will be fully acknowledged in the annals of our great game and you will be fondly remembered by all your friends in the shinty community.”

Liz was eventually to carve out a high profile and successful career for herself in the world of tourism, negotiating her way through various iterations of the national agency to become, before her retirement, a Regional Director of VisitScotland. Her career in tourism had begun in 1978 with the Wester Ross Tourist Association.
She held the role of chief executive of VisitScotland’s subsidiary Tourist Board Training Ltd between 1984 until 2008.
In this role she was instrumental in the establishment of a training programme for information centre staff and securing European funding for Scottish tourism. She also played a key role in ensuring that Scottish tourism was well represented at a European level becoming President of the European Union of Tourist Officers (EUTO), a post she has held for the best part of a decade.

In 2008, Liz became commercial partners director at VisitScotland, responsible for leading teams fostering and growing relationships with local authorities, destination management organisations (DMOs) and key national customers.
She was appointed VisitScotland’s regional director for Glasgow and team leader for regional directors in the south of Scotland in 2010. Her distinguished service to tourism of more than 30 years was to lead to the award of an MBE in January 2011.

Liz never forgot her roots in the Western Isles and frequently visited her brother in the family home and was, in fact, due to make a visit there this week.

Liz married twice, to Angus MacInnes and Paul Buchanan. The sympathy of the whole shinty community is extended to everyone who knew her and those closest to her in her various spheres of activity and influence.

Details of the funeral arrangements are not yet available.