Tributes paid to former charity chief

Former Enable chief led the way for learning disabled in Scotland 

19th January 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Iain McMurray

Iain McMurray

Tributes have been paid to former Enable chief executive Iain Miller McMurray who has died.

Iain, who was chief executive of the then Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped (SSMH) from 1968 to 1991, is well remembered for the work he did building the organisation and raising the profile of learning disability in Scotland.

He died peacefully on 31 December. 

Encouraging families to form and run local branches of the charity and to campaign for many of the services that are now taken for granted, he was regarded as one of the leading progressive campaigners of his time. 

Iain’s appointment at the charity coincided with the Social Work Act which opened the door for the organisation to campaign to end people living in long-stay hospitals.

As a result of this, by 1973 SSMH had given councils interest-free loans to set up supported living accommodation in Ayrshire, Elgin, Linwood and Glasgow, with another 20 set to open.

Throughout his tenure, Iain was also responsible for ground-breaking changes such as setting up Key Housing, leading a campaign calling for a comprehensive strategy for learning disability services in Scotland.

SSMH Homes for adults who had profound disabilities was another string to his bow as was appointing an employment development officer to find and promote job opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

Following the introduction of Disabled Persons Act in 1986, he paved the way for the development of our Legal and Trustee Services, ensuring people who had learning disabilities and their families had access to future planning and knew about their legal rights.

Remembered as a man of integrity but, perhaps more than that, as someone whose sense of humour endeared him to everyone, Iain is survived by daughter Sheona and grandchildren Evie and Ewan.