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Tributes paid to inspirational third sector leader

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Ian Findlay, chief officer of Paths for All and ACOSVO chairman, died suddenly last week

Tributes have been paid to a Scottish third sector leader who died suddenly last week.

Ian Findlay, chief officer of Paths for All and chair of ACOSVO, passed away on Friday 5 March whilst out cycling.

Paths for All have expressed their sadness and shock at the news, with an online book of condolence being set up to allow friends and colleagues to pay tribute to him.

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Findlay’s passion for nature and respect for Scotland’s countryside led him to pursue a career spanning more than 35 years.

Findlay started his career as a countryside ranger in the highlands. He worked extensively making a valuable contribution in the environment sector, including roles at the Nature Conservancy Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

His leadership of Paths for All spanned 17 years, where he played a key role in creating Scotland’s first National Walking Strategy and helped the organisation to diversify and grow.

He was awarded a CBE in 2019 in recognition for his work.

A statement from Paths for All expressed profound sadness at Findlay’s death.

It said: “Ian, who was approaching his 60th birthday milestone, has been Paths for All’s chief officer for over 17 years. He was hugely respected by colleagues and in Scotland's third sector and beyond.

“Ian was a lifelong outdoor enthusiast. His personal values of responsibility, respect and care for each other and for our environment were evident to all that had the privilege to know and work with him.

“Our thoughts are with Ian’s wife Andrea, daughter Lianne, granddaughter Phoebe and the rest of his family at this sad time.

“We are all still letting this tragic news sink in. Ian has been an inspiring chief officer, he leaves an incredible legacy, and we will honour him by continuing to make Paths for All the organisation he was so passionate and proud of.”

Paths for All’s chair Marcus Sangster said: “I have lost a friend. Ian will be terribly missed by staff and trustees past and present. We are so grateful for his passion, kindness and personal integrity making Paths for All the successful charity it is today.”

Findlay was also heavily involved at ACOSVO, where he served on the board for 12 years. He was appointed as convenor in November of last year, having served as vice-convenor from 2016 to 2020.

ACOSVO chief executive Pat Armstrong said: “Ian was ACOSVO convenor, a good friend, a mentor and someone I looked up to and had the hugest respect and fondness for.

“It’s always a close relationship between chair and CEO but it was hard not to be friends with such a warm caring person too. As CEO I leant on Ian whenever the going got tough. We also celebrated when things were going well – and there wasn’t much that could be solved by a good “walk and talk”. He embodied his values and you could always rely on him whenever support was needed.  I looked up to Ian as someone I could only aspire to be like.  He will be so sorely missed.  We will all need time to grieve, but he will be remembered with much love, fondness and respect from all of us.”

John Lauder, national director of Sustrans Scotland, said Findlay left a hugely positive legacy.

He said: “The death of Ian Findlay is terribly sad news and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife and family, his colleagues at Paths for All and his many friends, not least the tightly knit community of Comrie, where he was such a well-known figure.

“I knew Ian as a colleague for nearly sixteen years.  He was the kindest, most decent and inspirational leader I have known. Someone I looked up to, held up as a mentor and a role model.

"Often, I’d be wrestling with something at work and would call Ian for advice, which was always good and freely given.

“Ian truly believed that the world would be a better place if more people were able to easily walk, wheel and cycle, and he helped thousands of people to do just that throughout his career.  



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