Alistair Buxton Urquhart OAM
18/01/1947 – 16/07/2023
Our dear friend and colleague, Alistair Urquhart, passed away last weekend after spending some weeks in hospital on the Bellarine Peninsula. Members will remember the times he piped in dignitaries and guests on special occasions when we met at the Windsor Hotel.
But he won’t just be remembered for playing the pipes. Alistair was engaging, quirky (who else wears red socks) and he cared about people and he loved to talk. He could talk with authority about almost everything. His career experience was so diverse one wonders how he packed so much into one lifetime.
Alistair was born in January 1947 in East Melbourne and when he was 10 his family moved to Geelong where he attended Geelong College. In his matriculation year, he won an American Field Service Scholarship and spent a year in Washington, DC., graduating from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. On his return from the US, he completed his matriculation while he worked full-time at Borthwick's abattoir. He then undertook a combined Law Arts Degree at the Australian National University. He did his articles with the Melbourne law firm Pearce & Webster and was admitted to the bar, however, he never practiced. His studies here and in the USA provided Alistair with a launching pad to take on the world.
His first job after qualifying was coal trading where he learned about international trade. He then moved to London and got into grain trading, and it was during this time he was Chairman of the Knightsbridge Pipe Band. He then did a year in banking in New York, then more coal trading before a decade in finance in Melbourne. In 1992 he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in the Federal seat of Jaga Jaga. All this international and local experience prepared him well to start his own public relations and publishing company, Affairs of State, in 1993. The firm published a range of digests, directories, and other material in the general policy area, including the public policy intelligence bulletin Letter from Melbourne.
Alistair was inducted into the club in April 2000 with the classification Public Affairs. He delivered an exciting array of guest speakers as Club Program Director 2006-08. He was well credentialed to be Bulletin Editor, serving in the role for seven years, producing 290 Bulletins. The quiet achiever just got on with it. He was a member of the Canterbury Waverley Group.
I said earlier, Alistair cared about people, particularly those less fortunate and those with a disability. He was the founding chairman of WISE Employment, a position he held for over 30 years. It began as a small not-for-profit local disability employment service with innovative programs for the disabled, ex-offenders and mentally concerned. It started from nothing and now has 150 offices around Australia and deals with 10,000 jobseekers a year. In 2021 Alistair was recognised for this work in the Australia Day Honours receiving an Order of Australia Medal.
Alistair was energetic, cheeky and affable. He was much loved and highly respected by all who knew him and he will be sadly missed.
We have sent our condolences to Mary.
Alistair's Funeral Service will be held at the Barwon Heads Uniting Church, Hitchcock Ave, Barwon Heads on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 commencing at 11:00am; followed by a Burial at the Queenscliff Cemetery, (Point Lonsdale Cemetery), 159 Point Lonsdale Road, Point Lonsdale.