AN entrepreneur, who was an integral part of the Cockburn Street “jeans scene”, has died at the age of 57.
Ian Morrison died after a long battle with cancer which was instrumental in changing policy on the availability of drugs to fight the disease.
When Ian left school, his father persuaded him to join the civil service, but his heart was not in it, and an offer to work in the retail trade sparked off his entrepreneurial spirit. With his lifelong friend Ian Young, he got involved in shops like the Jolly Jean Company.
He became part of the 1970s “jeans scene” in which fashion businesses were established in the winding Old Town thoroughfare that was once dubbed Scotland’s Carnaby Street.
In 1981, he joined the then-fledgling company Schuh, selling shoes from a shop in North Bridge Arcade at the top of Cockburn Street.
He became sales director of the firm, but when it was reorganised in 1988, and in order to spend more time with his young children, he quit and for some years drove a taxi, after moving his family to West Linton.
He remained an entrepreneur at heart, however, and in 1995, along with second wife Alison and partners Dave and Pauline Murray, he opened his own successful business, The Fire Side, in West Linton, selling stoves and accessories.
He was a stalwart of the Whipman festival – West Linton’s part of the Borders rideout scene and played a full part in many other community activities, such as the local Parent Teacher Association.
His hobbies included power boating, skiing – he made an annual trip to Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps – and riding his motorbike.
Ian sought publicity only late in his life, when, as a victim of the cancer that would eventually cause his death last week, he fought the bureaucracy of the National Health Service – and won.
His remarkably courageous stance on the issue of whether Scottish cancer victims should be provided with life-prolonging drugs by the NHS made headlines in 2012.
Ian had been diagnosed with bowel cancer the previous year, and he and his then-fiancée Jacqui reacted with a resourcefulness and determination that was typical of both of them.
They brought forward their wedding and the couple found that a new generation of drugs was helping people with cancer to live longer. But NHS Lothian, which was responsible for his treatment, refused to pay for cetuximab, though it was widely available in England and to “special cases” elsewhere in Scotland.
The family spent £12,000 on a private course of treatment while enlisting the help of people like local MSP Christine Grahame and the Beating Bowel Cancer group to fight this NHS anomaly. His victory over the system, along with those of others who came forward to tell their stories, saw the Scottish Government forced to adopt a new flexible approach.
Ian married thrice, to Lorraine and then Alison, by whom he had his two children, and then Jacqui. He is survived by Jacqui and his previous wives, by his mother Doreen and mother-in-law Joyce, by his siblings Margaret and Graham, and by his two daughters, Holly and Kim, and his stepchildren, Nik and Anita.
A celebration of his life will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium on Friday at 3pm. At his request, mourners should not wear black.