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Donald Heughan, FRSA, MRAeS, MIMechE, FIMgt, CEng, HonFREng (1926-2015)

April 9, 2015

It is with sadness we report that Donald Heughan passed away peacefully in his sleep on Easter Sunday, 5th April after a short spell in hospital.  He was appointed a Trustee in 1964 and served on the Trustee Board for 42 years until he retired in 2006.

Donald Heughan proposed the idea of The MacRobert Award for outstanding contribution by way of innovation in the fields of Engineering or other physical technologies.  The Award was launched in 1968 and he was a founder member of the Evaluation Committee, being present at most meetings between 1967 and 2003.  Originally an award of £25,000 but now with a prize of £50,000 and medals to the winning team, the Award remains the premier and most prestigious technological prize in the UK.  In recognition of this signal achievement he was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2002.

His uncle, William Heughan, first became associated with the MacRobert family when he attended Sir Alasdair’s coming of age party at Douneside in August 1933.  William Heughan was then made a Trustee until 1965 and died at Douneside at the age of 78.  His nephew, Donald, was “early acquainted with Lady MacRobert”.  When he was 16, he sent her a model of a Stirling bomber when ‘MacRobert’s Reply’ first made its appearance in 1942.  He first met Lady MacRobert in 1949 and she later appointed him, then an undergraduate in his early 20’s at St John’s Cambridge, to a position in the Douneside Nominee Company Ltd.

After he left university with an MSc in Mechanical Engineering, he worked for various companies including the British (now Malaysian) Rubber Producers’ Association and the de Havilland Aircraft Company (now British Aerospace).

The abiding quality that Donald brought to Trustees’ meetings and general affairs was his total devotion to the posthumous wishes of Lady MacRobert.  He was a true guardian of Lady MacRobert’s spirit and ideals.

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