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Late journalist’s book to raise money for prostate cancer charity

Fordyce MaxwellThe family of a farming journalist who died from prostate cancer last year are publishing a collection of his writings to help raise money to fight the condition.

Fordyce Maxwell, pictured, died aged 77 after career writing for The Scotsman, Glasgow-based daily The Herald and Newcastle daily The Journal among other titles.

Now his family are publishing 50 of his Scotsman articles in book form to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.

Entitled When Trees Were Green, the book has been edited by Fordyce’s son, Tom.

He said: “One of my dad’s many gifts was his ability to write about any subject, from tragedy to politics to war to simple things like a school trip or a local football match, all with a beautiful, understated prose. He never needed to sensationalise.

“He would leave his many loyal readers laughing one minute and crying the next. But he was every bit as wonderful – if not more so – as a father and a husband, and we still can’t quite believe he’s no longer with us.

“But with this book, we will still hear his voice, laugh with him and cry with him, and he’d been so proud that, even after he’s gone, his many wise words will still be helping people to get through life.”

Tom said his father’s experience with prostate cancer will sound far all too familiar and that he hoped it would serve as a warning to others.

He said: “My dad was very fit for his age and showed none of the typical signs of early prostate cancer. He would easily put people 20 years younger to shame and even went for an 11-mile hike in the Cheviots just a week before he was admitted to hospital just before Christmas in 2019, unable to walk due to previously undetected spinal tumours.

“He had gone to the doctor several times over the previous 18 months with back and shoulder pain, only to be sent away for physio rather than a scan. But if a pain can’t be explained, it could be something serious.

“We’ll never know for sure, but I think there’s a good chance he could have been with us for a few more years if his cancer had been caught sooner.

“His youngest grandchild, Thomas, had only just turned one when my dad died, so those few years could have been the difference between him knowing and not knowing his granddad, who was one of the kindest, most affable and bravest people you could ever hope to meet.”

Fordyce had two stints with The Scotsman, becoming agricultural editor in 1975 before leaving to go into practical farming with his brothers, combining it with freelance work.

During this time, he suffered a family tragedy when his 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 returned to The Scotsman as farming editor in 1989 and was given a weekly column by the then editor Magnus Linklater. He was awarded the MBE for services to journalism in 1995.

* When Trees Were Green – The Scotsman Articles of Fordyce Maxwell is priced £15 and is available from