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Journalist who won MBE for services to industry dies aged 77

Fordyce MaxwellA farming journalist who received the MBE for his services to journalism has died aged 77.

Tributes have been paid to Fordyce Maxwell, who worked for titles including The Scotsman, Glasgow-based daily The Herald and Newcastle daily The Journal during his career.

For 35 years he also wrote a weekly ‘Landlines’ column under the pseudonym of ‘Halidon’ for the Berwick Advertiser, Berwickshire News and the Southern Reporter.

Fordyce, whose wife Liz also worked for the Advertiser, had been suffering from prostate cancer.

Brought up close to England’s border with Scotland, his father Thomas Fordyce Maxwell combined farming life with regular columns for the Alnwick Gazette.

Fordyce, pictured, cut his journalistic teeth as a young reporter on Farming News, based in Perth, before becoming The Scotsman’s assistant agricultural editor in the late 1960s.

He was promoted to agricultural editor in 1975, but later left the Edinburgh-based daily to go into practical farming with his brothers Angus and Donald, combining his agricultural work with freelance writing for The Journal, The Herald and The Scottish Farmer.

During this time, he and Liz suffered a family tragedy when their 11-year-old daughter Susan was abducted and murdered by serial killer Robert Black as she walked home over Coldstream Bridge after a game of tennis in July 1982.

Fordyce later returned to his old post at The Scotsman but also served as a weekly columnist, the paper’s daily diarist and also the sketch writer covering the Scottish Parliament.

In an obituary for the Northumberland Gazette, Arthur Anderson wrote: “Other strings to Fordyce’s bow included a talent for broadcasting and for several years he had a regular Maxwell on Monday slot on BBC Radio Scotland’s Farm Journal programme.

“Additionally, he was a gifted public speaker and was in constant demand for after-dinner engagements, any proceeds from which he donated to charity.

“All his journalistic life, Fordyce was an enthusiastic member and supporter of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and was a winner of both the coveted Stuart Seaton and Netherthorpe awards.

“In 1995 he received the MBE for his services to journalism and in 2007 was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Society of Newspaper Editors.

“Fordyce was a generous supporter of rural charities and, as a keen hill walker, was a driving force in the Teesdale Way long-distance charity walk in 2000 in aid of the Guild’s Charitable trust and the 200-mile Southern Upland Way walks to raise funds for the RSABI farming charity in 1997 and 2018.

“In his many years in journalism, Fordyce was a champion of a farming industry that he loved but that neither infringed upon nor weakened his journalistic objectivity and he was never afraid to tackle often contentious subjects with vigour.”

Fordyce is survived by Liz, daughter Jacqueline and son-in-law Nolan with granddaughters Ebba and Isla, and son Tom and daughter-in-law Jenna, with granddaughter Sabrina and grandson Thomas Fordyce.