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Obituary: Former Rotary president Ian McFarlane helped set up fundraising Shakespeare Marathon

Tributes have been paid to Ian McFarlane, former president of Stratford Rotary Club, a Texaco employee of 62 years and beloved husband and father who died on 23rd December, aged 93.

Well known around Stratford for his role in founding the Shakespeare Marathon, as well as his presidency of the Sea Cadets and membership of the golf club for 23 years, Ian will be remembered for his warm, kind and generous nature.

Ian McFarlane, who has died aged 93. (54458259)
Ian McFarlane, who has died aged 93. (54458259)

He met his wife, Joan, at a local tennis club and they married in 1956, going on to have three daughters: Anthea, Sheena and Joanna.

Ian was born on 19th August 1928 in Birmingham after his Scottish father moved to the city following the First World War. He had a comfortable childhood in the village of Northfield, where he attended local schools up to the age of nine before being sent to Lickey Hill Prep School as a boarder.

A passion for ships led to a successful entrance exam at the age of 13 for Dartmouth Naval College, but his restricted eyesight prevented him from joining. A last-minute vacancy at Cheltenham College saw Ian offered a place, where he studied from 1942 to 1946.

After leaving school, Ian enlisted in the British Army, receiving his initial training at Budbrooke Barracks. He joined the Royal Artillery and in 1947 was posted to the British Army of the Rhine. There he completed his diploma as an Army Education Instructor at the College of the Rhine Army, Gottingen University.

In August 1949, aged 21, Ian joined the newly-formed Regent Oil Company as a trainee retail sales representative, and over the next 13 years expanded the ‘Regent Roundel’ market in the Midlands area. Success in this field led to several promotions, taking posts in Belfast and Glasgow, before he transferred back to the Midlands in 1978, settling with his family in Stratford.

In his new role as communications representative for Texaco – which bought Regent in 1969 – Ian worked on a number of projects including the introduction of mobile phones for all field and non-office staff, seen as an industry-leading step.

After taking voluntary redundancy in 1987, Ian became a contractor for Texaco, organising sales conferences and later working in the public affairs department organising corporate sponsorship, including the launch of the Texaco Trophy in 1984 for his beloved game of cricket.

His involvement in Stratford saw him take on numerous roles, including director of St John’s Ambulance in Warwickshire, and, in 1996, Ian was the first male consort when his wife, Joan, was appointed the town mayor.

One of Ian’s most enduring legacies is the Shakespeare Marathon, which he founded as president of the Rotary Club and which now supports more than 40 charities.

Former mayor of Stratford, Dr Roy Lodge, described Ian as “a delightful man whose cheerful disposition and gentle manner made him a pleasure to be with”.

Ian’s daughter, Sheena, recalled cherished memories of family holidays abroad spent racing lilos in the swimming pool, the parties thrown for friends and family with the famous bottomless McFarlane bar, and blow-drying his hair into the George Best cut before he left for work in the morning.

She said: “He was dedicated to helping others and putting their needs ahead of his own, and I don’t believe there’s anything better to be remembered for.” A service was held in memory of Ian on 17th January at St James Church, Alveston.

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