Obituary: Jimmy McIntosh MBE, 74

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Tributes have poured in for Jimmy McIntosh MBE, a respected campaigner for disability rights, who has died at the age of 74.

Jimmy was born near Inverness in 1939 with cerebral palsy and his mother was warned by the doctors that he would never be able to do anything for himself.

He grew up on his family’s farm, but was placed in Raigmore Hospital at the age of just four after his grandfather died and his mother left to find work.

For the next 40 years, he was in institutional care, but continued to defy doctors who came to realise that by the age of 11 he was capable of being educated.

After a spell at East Park Home in Glasgow, he moved to Gogarburn Hospital, where some of the other residents had been sent by the courts.

A born fighter, Jimmy helped set up the Gogarburn Patients Committee and along with three others, took the Secretary of State to court to win the right for patients to vote in 1981.

He met Elizabeth, the love of his life, in 1976, and the couple married in Gogarburn on August 17, 1983. Delays in adapting their housing meant they did not leave the hospital until years later.

Jimmy turned his tough early experiences into positives and resolved to fight for the rights of disabled people, not just in Edinburgh, but nationally and abroad.

He was instrumental in fighting for accessible transport and was an active campaigner against bullying and hate crime.

Jimmy was a “well-kent face” in the Capital, often starting his working day at 5am before toiling late into the evenings, attending committees, campaigning and lending an ear to others.

One of his proudest achievements was spending six years as chairman of Partners in Advocacy, which assists adults who use learning disability services and children and young people with additional support needs.

Now the organisation works across Scotland, particularly in the Lothians, Glasgow and Dundee.

Jimmy landed many accolades and awards over the years, and was a regular correspondent of Justice Secretary and Edinburgh East MSP Kenny MacAskill, who paid tribute following the “sad news” that Jimmy had died. Mr MacAskill said: “Jimmy was a wonderful man who overcame adversity and injustice.

“He remained steadfast and dogged in his pursuit of justice, fairness and equality.

“His humour and charm were exceptional. There was never any hint of bitterness or malice despite the wrongs he suffered. He remained good and committed to the end.”

Amongst Jimmy’s honours was being awarded the MBE in 2006, while he was also named Scotland’s charity champion in 2010 by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.