In Memoriam: Hubert Andrew
John M. Hammond
It was with great sadness that I learnt that Hubert Andrew had passed away on 5th February 2005. In his characteristic approach to life, a belief in the need for facing up to reality and seeing everything in black and white, a few weeks earlier Hubert had written to say that this would be his last Christmas at Colintraive. Over the years I have had the good fortune to stay overnight several times at Stron Ailne, the last white house on the tip of the peninsula with a glorious view looking out across the Kyles of Bute.
Many Scottish Chapter members thought they knew Hubert well. But, in some ways, that was not the case, as he talked little about his professional life and it will come as a surprise to many that Hubert was a pioneering veterinary surgeon, instrumental in the development of veterinary hospitals across the country.
Educated in Glenalmond, Hubert graduated from Dick Veterinary College in Edinburgh in 1947. He became a member of a progressive practice in Paisley, near Glasgow, where he and his three partners invested a great deal of time, energy and capital in providing a top-class veterinary service to the residents of Paisley and beyond. In January 1968, their work was rewarded by the Canal Street premises becoming the first in Scotland to be designated a veterinary hospital. He served as president of both the British Veterinary Hospitals Association and the Society of Practicing Veterinary Surgeons.
On retiring to Colintraive with his wife, Elizabeth (Bett), he developed his interest in rhododendrons, growing more than 120 different varieties. Around 1986 he joined the Scottish Rhododendron Society, and in the spring 1987 became its Hon. Treasurer. The following year he became the enthusiastic "temporary" Hon. Secretary & Treasurer. Hubert continued in a "temporary" capacity for eight years! Unfortunately, the latter years saw the onset of a debilitating illness that was to progressively cut down Bett's mobility, and Hubert himself began to have his own mobility problems.
None of this was permitted to curtail his gardening activities, and he continued to open his garden to the public each spring under the Scotland's Garden Scheme. It was a moment of great pride when his garden featured on the Scottish TV programme The Beechgrove Garden.
Hubert had a wicked sense of humour and an un-ending set of tales to tell that lit up many a formal meeting or an after-dinner "wee dram." His eyes would gleam when amused, his face would slightly redden and then crease into a smile, and the smile would progress to a wide grin. The slightest suggestion that you had some money to hand over to him had a similar effect; the fingers would start tapping on the table and the grin was proportionate to the size of sum involved. And, whilst we have laughed on many occasions in regard to his preference for using the "Argyll biscuit tin" approach to creative accountancy, he was meticulous in his financial dealings.
At the American Rhododendron Society's Annual convention held in Oban in 1996, he was awarded the Society's Bronze Medal.
In his retirement Hubert travelled extensively to France, Spain, Ireland, Cornwall and most of all to his favourite Norway. As Bett's mobility problems became more acute and she became confined to a wheelchair he stoically continued to travel and to take part in the Society's garden visits despite the difficulties involved, all this at a time when his own health and mobility problems were also deteriorating.
We will all miss Hubert's single-mindedness, his enthusiasm to get things done, his sage advice, his grin and the tales from pages of life.
He is survived by his wife, Bett, and his son, Hugh.