Gordon R. McInally, only the second Rotary president from Scotland, is embarking on his hope-filled agenda. Gordon wants Rotary to exist everywhere in a style that suits everyone who has the desire to work with us to do good. During this Rotary year, he’ll focus on three presidential initiatives that Create Hope in the World: prioritizing mental health, building peace through virtual exchanges, and empowering girls. Read more about Gordon and his Scottish roots in the July issue of Rotary magazine and listen to a reading of the article on our podcast.
Gordon McInally grew up in Portobello, a picturesque seaside area of Edinburgh, notable for its beautiful beach with light-colored sand and wooden groynes (barriers to protect the shoreline) jutting out into the water of the Firth of Forth. His mother owned and operated a private nursery, and his father worked for Macdonald & Muir, which makes Glenmorangie whiskies. His late brother, Ian, was three years younger, and the two spent much of their childhood playing and watching rugby.
Gordon and Heather met in their late teens, and their relationship blossomed on a trip to Florence, Italy, with a combined choir from their separate schools in Edinburgh. “We’re not in each other’s pockets; we do our own thing,” Heather McInally says. “Even with Rotary, I belong to the Borderlands passport club [a satellite club of the Rotary Club of Selkirk], and Gordon is a member of South Queensferry. Our lives have always worked like that, largely due to work commitments, where we go off in different directions. We’re both independent people, but we always come home at night and tell each other what we’ve been doing.”
Her husband agrees. The couple have two daughters, Rebecca and Sarah, and two grandchildren, Ivy and Florence. He describes Heather as “a very, very tolerant lady who has been a great support to me over the years.”
He adds: “She’s always a good sounding board. I can rely on Heather to tell me it as it is. If I give a presentation, everyone’s going to tell me it was great, but Heather will always tell me the truth! I know I couldn’t do this job without her support.”
When they married at Craigsbank Parish Church in Edinburgh, Gordon McInally became a member of the Church of Scotland, having previously been a member of the Methodist Church. Now an elder and trustee in the church, he has also served as a presbytery elder, chairman of his parish congregational board, and a commissioner to the church’s general assembly.
“My parents instilled in me and my late brother a sense of helping and caring for others that has remained with me for life,” he says. “My personal faith, and my upbringing within a family with a similarly strong faith, has definitely impacted my life choices and career.”
McInally owned and ran a busy dental practice in Scotland’s capital for more than three decades, retiring in 2016. He held teaching and examining posts and served as a branch chairman of the British Paedodontic Society (now the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry). After living for many years in South Queensferry, the McInallys relocated to Scottish Borders when he stepped back from day-to-day practice. The move was over 30 years in the planning.
“All the time I was working as a dentist, we said it would be nice to ultimately make our home in the Borders, because it’s where my forebears came from,” he says. “My mother’s family were farmers, and my mother was born on a farm about 15 miles from here. I’ve said to people since we came here that I feel as if my DNA has come home.”
By Rotary International