Behind the gentle, quiet, and humble manner, there was a lot more to Bill McDougall than was immediately apparent. Firstly, however, if you were a sassenach from the Wychwoods, you had to penetrate the strong Scots accent!
Bill was born at the start of the War in Anderston, a run-down fishing village long since taken over by an expanding Glasgow. It was said that there were only two ways out of Anderston – either by kicking a football or strumming a piano! Before trying his hand(s!) at the piano, he broke his arm in a playground accident and had to have a pin inserted. He was then recommended to take up drumming to build up his arm muscle. He turned out to be a gifted drummer.
At the age of 17, his music teacher nominated him for the British National Youth Orchestra. There he was spotted by Mantovani, who offered him a permanent position as drummer in his own orchestra. Bill was delighted but he needed his parents’ consent and they wanted him to go to university.
Bill needed to sit his Higher exam in Music. The Education Authority maintained that drums were not a musical instrument. Instead, he had to learn a classical piece on the piano within four months to pass the exam. That is what he did, so proving that you could escape Anderston by playing the piano!
However, his drumming brought another advantage. He met Myra at a dance where the banner above the door read, “Come and meet your partner for life.” Bill was the band’s cool drummer. They were married for 55 years.
He studied electrical engineering and was an engineer to his core. Everything he did was with care and precision. He worked for Hoover for twenty-four years, although ironically could not operate a washing machine. He was one of a small group of engineers who worked on the first prototype of the ultrasound machine in an engineering and science collaboration with Glasgow University in the 1960s. Modest as ever, when his grandchildren saw the resultant machine, Bill simply stated, “Oh, there’s a wee machine there with my name on it, I think…”.
Bill was President of Eastwood Rotary in Glasgow in the Millenium year and was keen to continue his Rotary service when he and Myra retired and moved to the Wychwoods. This gave him a platform to help others, perhaps less fortunate than himself. Eventually, he became President of Chipping Norton Rotary Club and it was in this capacity that perhaps most of his Wychwood friends knew him and his meticulous approach to life.
Alan Vickers, with thanks to Bill and Myra’s children, Alison and Iain
February – March 2022