Allan Maclean of The Edge Magazine talks to Simon Mackintosh, 'Mr Charity Law Scotland', known for his friendly manner and concern for other people, and whom Allan has known for over thirty years.
Simon Mackintosh is both a 'hereditary Episcopalian' and a 'cradle Episcopalian'; his father having been the well-known Canon Aeneas Mackintosh, rector of St John's, Princes Street, Edinburgh from 1969 to 1981.
The family came originally from Stratherrick, south east of Inverness, known for its historic episcopalianism, dating from the Jacobite times. Aeneas was baptised by the redoubtable Canon Mackintosh of St Michael's, Inverness, who had always wanted to christen a baby with this traditional Mackintosh name. Aeneas studied for the ministry at Kelham, and after an initial curacy in Inverness, did his 'second curacy' at Wisbech, where he married Mary, and where their eldest child Simon was born in 1957.
The family returned to Scotland when Aeneas was appointed Priest-in-Charge of St Matthew's, Possilpark, in Glasgow. This was a working class congregation, and the rectory was surrounded by the factories, in which the congregation largely worked. These are Simon's earliest memories, which also include some of Richard Holloway, at that time also working in Glasgow. After four years, the Mackintosh family, by then including Chris (now a doctor in Glasgow), Mark (now in Adelaide) and soon to be followed by Richard (now a bank security specialist in London), moved to Haddington, where Simon first went to school. When Aeneas moved to join the team ministry at St John's, Edinburgh, Simon moved to the Edinburgh Academy, before starting, thanks to the bursaries provided for the children of Episcopalian clergy, at Trinity College, Glenalmond. Here Simon entered fully into the life of the school, which he enjoyed immensely, including all the educational and sporting opportunities on offer, and coming under the influence of some outstanding teachers. He spent a term on exchange in Germany, laying the foundation of his enthusiasm for Germany and the German language. Simon had been confirmed at St John's by Ken Carey, and Chapel was a central daily part of life at Glenalmond. Simon took it seriously, and it laid much of the foundation for his subsequent life of faith.
Equally formative was the Mackintosh home life at St John's Rectory in Ainslie Place. The door was always open to members of the parish, and to many others from all walks of life, in their celebrations and their difficulties. Matters of faith, and church, were a normal part of the family life and conversation.
Simon went on to Magdalene College, Cambridge, initially to read modern languages, before transferring to law. He was fully involved in college life, not least the sporting side, playing rugby and rowing for his college, and also serving on the college students' committee. After wondering whether to pursue the law in London, Simon decided to return to Scotland and studied for his LLB at Edinburgh. Here he lived at home, and came to know the congregational life at St John's in a different way, as an adult.
Simon joined the firm of W & J Burness, where he specialised in private client law advising in long term planning, and on charities. He continued in these fields, when he, with others, moved to Turcan Connell, when it was founded in 1997 and where he is a partner. Since then ,charity law (the"third sector.) as become an increasingly important part of his practice.
Simon, sometimes referred to by his peers as 'Mr Charity Law Scotland', is professionally much concerned with OSCR [the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator], the sophisticated system that was set up under the 2005 Act. Simon, who served on the Scottish Charity Law Review Commission, feels that what it proposed has worked out well, although it may yet need some small tweaks, perhaps in line with the recent English revisions. OSCR has managed to make those responsible for the charities focus on what a charity and its purposes are all about. On the church side, this has seen a shift of vision, as vestry members are now formally charity trustees, and need to make themselves fully informed as to what are their responsibilities. Simon feels that, in general, this is no bad thing.
Among the various charities, with which Simon has been involved, are the Court of Directors of his old school, the Edinburgh Academy, of which he has been chairman [i.e. Head of the Governors] and where he helped to see through many important changes, including the school becoming co-educational. He served on the Retirement Welfare Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church before becoming Chairman of the Pension Trustees. With his family background he was well aware of how important this fund is, and he was in the chair at a particularly worrying time, during the recent financial crisis, when there was a real pressure on funding. He was aware too, of the difficulties that smaller congregations would find in the necessary increased pension contributions, which he had to put to the General Synod.
Simon married Catriona Mann in 1984 and with their family, they are naturally 'south-siders' in Edinburgh. When the family returned from a spell in the Channel Islands, where Simon ran his firm's branch office in Guernsey, they found their church home at Christ Church, Morningside, not least because the rector, Norman Wickham, was his godfather, having been a great friend of his father, Aeneas, when they were at Kelham together. He had also known the next rector, David Reid-Thomas, at St John's, and indeed David's successor Jim Mein had earlier known Simon as one of four similar looking small boys! To begin with, the Mackintoshes sat quietly at the back of the church, but Simon was soon brought in to the management of the congregation, when he joined the Vestry.
Having been brought up and lived his life within the Episcopal Church, Simon is naturally at ease within it. He finds a regular pattern of worship is very helpful and underpins his life; he also appreciates the adaptability of the liturgy to the times, seasons and particular occasions. Simon makes special mention of the involvement of the laity, in the services and ministry of the church, as being a remarkable change during his lifetime, and it might be added one that his father was so keen to promote some thirty years ago.
Cat is a professional water-colourist, working from home in a purpose built studio, exhibiting both in a group and individually. A particularly memorable exhibition was at Christ Church, and she recently exhibited at Gallery Ten. Her work uses representational and semi-abstract visual language, and very often involves flowers, landscape and Edinburgh architecture. She is a founder trustee of Paintings in Hospitals, Scotland, Past President of Visual Arts Scotland, and Vice President of the RSW [The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour].
Very important to the Mackintoshes are their family; and family holidays both in Scotland and abroad have been highlights in their lives. Josephine is now training to be a lawyer in London, William is teaching [through Teach First] in North London, and Robin is studying history at Exeter. Both Simon and Cat are both very fond of Edinburgh, enjoying its cultural life, supporting museums and orchestras, and Simon has been a board member of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He enjoys a round of golf at Muirfield and a good match at Murrayfield; and also an interesting sermon at Christ Church, Morningside.