James Henderson - Freelance and former editor, the Northern Times

More
than 300 family, friends and colleagues past and present of legendary
Highland newsman Jimmy Henderson gathered under the glittering
chandeliers of Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, for a unique tribute to a
remarkable man.

The castle had played a pivotal role during the
last half of his life – it was where he met his second wife, Christine,
during the last waltz of a Strauss ball in 1976; it was the seat of his
former boss, the Countess of Sutherland, who then owned the Northern
Times weekly newspaper in Golspie; and it was where he fell on the main
stairs and sustained what turned out to be fatal injuries.

For
such an ebullient, gregarious man the funeral the previous day was
inexplicably private, but at the party celebrating his life he would
have enjoyed himself to the full.

Born James Gunn Henderson in
Wick, Caithness, of a family of crofters and fisherfolk, he learned his
trade on the John o’ Groat Journal weekly and was headhunted by the
Scottish Daily Express in Inverness.

He rose to be features news
editor from 1960 to 1975 – the halcyon days of that newspaper which had
a coterie of journalists and a circulation to die for.

In 1974,
the Express contracted its operations to Manchester with 2,000 job
losses but James was one of 70 people retained to maintain the Scottish
output. But he was desperately unhappy and when the editorship of the
Northern Times was offered he accepted with alacrity. He recalled: “I
came to Golspie for half the salary but doubled my life expectancy. Now
that I am ‘quits’ I would like to treble the money.”

He was the
epitome of a local newspaper editor – totally committed to the role and
completely immersed in the community he served.

In Glasgow,
tragically, his first wife, Cathy, had contracted motor-nerve
polyneuritis, and was respirated until her early death in 1971.
Somehow, despite holding down one of the most demanding of jobs at the
Express and bringing up two young daughters – Susan and Judy – Jimmy
was remarkably resilient in adversity.

In Golspie, he wooed and
wed Christine Mackay and they had a son, David, while Jimmy was a
devoted stepfather to Scott, Edward and Daniel.

Jimmy’s
contribution to the media was recognised with an MBE and he won the
coveted Barron Trophy for his outstanding contribution to Highland
journalism. After retiring from the Northern Times in 1996 he was
busier, if that were possible, than ever as a freelance.

Ridiculously
energetic despite a triple heart bypass ten years ago, he was a
community dynamo with a helpful finger in every pie.

He was
exceedingly kind, empathetic, sometimes impatient and irascible but
always irrepressible. Dubbed “the Laird of Littleferry”, derived from
his home on the beautiful shore of Loch Fleet, he revelled in the title.

Hamish Mackay

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