Tributes to Herald on Sunday columnist Ally McLaws
âThe writing has been my outlet – I hope what people take away from it is how important it is to talk about your experience. The chronicle allowed me to release my emotions.
These are the words of Herald on Sunday columnist Ally McLaws, who has written powerful and moving articles about the reality of living with cancer during a pandemic and the impact it has had on those loved by them.
In recent days, Ally has been admitted to hospital while undergoing treatment for terminal lung and brain cancer.
Writing his column last week from his hospital bed, Ally revealed he tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after being admitted to hospital. Sadly, Ally passed away in the early hours of Friday morning at the age of 63.
Read more: Ally Mclaws – Living with Cancer During a Pandemic: So I am now in a Covid ward … and I’m rapidly losing my quality of life
Readers of The Herald on Sunday first met Ally through her weekly column “Living with Cancer During a Pandemic,” but her connection to this group of newspapers spans decades.
Early in his career he had worked on weekly newspaper headlines in Ayrshire before moving to Glasgow to work for our partner newspaper, then known as the Evening Times. It was during this time that he worked on several large-scale investigations for the newspaper before rising through the ranks to become editor and then associate editor.
Former Evening Times editor John Scott said the Ally chronicles would have brought immense comfort to an army of companions in misfortune, but said that “typical of Ally” there is had never had a hint of self-pity and that they had universal appeal due to the excellence of her writing skills. .
Mr Scott said: âI had the privilege and joy of working with Ally when I was editor of the Evening Times and Ally was chief reporter and most recently editor. I say ‘joy’ wisely because Ally was such a lovely guy and always a lot of fun to be with – someone I feel privileged to call a friend.
âHe was an accomplished journalist who deserved immense respect for his campaign skills, including a series of award-winning campaigns and exhibitions, many with fellow investigative journalist Mike Hildrey – a chalk-and-cheesy couple who earned him the nickname Odd Couple in journalism. circles.
Ally moved from newspapers to public relations in 2000, moving to NHS Lanarkshire. In 2002 he joined NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to become Director of Corporate Communications. It was through his role in the healthcare sector that he bonded with the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow, which at the time raised Â£ 21million for a hospice built for this purpose in the park of Bellahouston.
He then became a director on the hospice’s board of directors – a role he only gave up at the start of the year due to his deteriorating health.
Rhona Baillie, managing director of the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, described Ally as someone who always had time for others.
Ms Baillie said: âAlly was a very good friend at the hospice and she was such a warm person. There was no formalities with Ally and he was able to put people at ease. We got to know him through his role of communicating with the board of health and in 2012 he became one of our directors – I think he was very proud of his role with us.
âHe had good ideas for our campaign as we were trying to raise Â£ 21million for our new hospice. He did a lot of his own fundraising that the whole family got involved in. I remember he was running around in a tutu to help raise funds for us. He had been very courageous and positive throughout his illness. He will be missed by everyone at the hospice.
Read more: Ally McLaws: Let’s All Race To Beat Cancer Together
Ally was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 and had surgery to remove a lung and hopefully cancer, but a follow-up scan detected the disease in her chest and blood cells. He also battled a major threat of sepsis and was seriously ill in hospital.
He endured months of treatment and follow-up appointments with incredible strength and positivity, but in February of this year, more devastating news came to light that the cancer had spread.
However, Ally’s question to the doctors was: what’s next? He started radiation therapy at the Beatson Cancer Center to target brain tumors before he could resume regular chemotherapy.
For the past 13 years he has had the support of his wife Laura who has been by his side. The couple first met in elementary school at Thornliebank Primary School. Throughout school he was “Santa” like in a Scottish Santa McLaws. Following a divorce, he reunites with Laura, a widow in 1999, and they get married in September 2012.
She called him “my hero, my Santa, my life” and said “he even pulled off a cheeky wink at the end”.
Their family meant the world to both of them. Ally had three children and Laura four children. Between them, they had 11 grandchildren.
In 2019, Ally drew on her background in journalism and communications to create her own firm, McLaws Consultancy, specializing in providing expert media advice to businesses and special causes.
When The Herald launched a campaign to create a memorial to Scottish Covid victims last May, Ally became a member of our steering group, guiding the project and contributing ideas to what he saw as an important campaign and a legacy. to mark what people had been through during the pandemic.
Ally and Laura helped raise funds for the campaign by participating in a Virtual Kiltwalk event walking 50 miles on the Isle of Bute, helping to raise Â£ 1,500 which was completed by Sir Tom Hunter through the Hunter Foundation over Â£ 3,000.
Charitable causes were important to Ally who has personally raised nearly Â£ 50,000 in recent years for charities such as Clic Sargent and the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, among others. Just a few weeks ago, he raised over Â£ 4,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support with close friend Stuart Wilson as a surrogate runner at the Berlin Marathon.
Donald Martin, editor of The Herald and The Herald on Sunday, said: âAlly was the consummate professional. He was a great journalist. He knew a story, how to find it and how to write it. It was typical of him that even towards the end, he still tried to dictate his last columns from his hospital bed. He will be sorely missed. ”
Jane Grant, chief executive of the NHSGGC, described Ally as an important part of its management team. She said: âWe would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Ally McLaws following the sad news of her death.
âAlly was an important member of the NHSGGC leadership team and, as Director of Corporate Communications, he was a valued and respected manager.
“His death leaves a significant void in the Scottish media world, and he will be missed by his friends and colleagues.”