Martin Procter of Dunkeld’s Strathbraan Brewery has died suddenly aged 68.
Born in Balham, London on August 14, 1953, the dad-of-three was out delivering beer with his wife when his heart failed.
He and Gloria had earlier left their home near the River Braan for Dundee before making their way to the Commercial Hotel in Tarland, near Aboyne.
Both the Procter family and staff at the hotel have paid tribute to Martin – but also to those who rallied around to try and save him.
Gloria said: “Martin and I have had a wonderful life. There is nothing that we wanted to do that we haven’t done.”
Martin attended Southfield Primary and then Wandsworth Comprehensive School.
The older of Charles and Violet Procter’s two sons, he left school to work at the Royal Marsden Hospital.
And in doing so, met future wife Gloria Cowlard, who was on the same course.
Love in the labs
“I was 17 when I met Martin. He was the same age.
“He was so easy to talk to that when he started giving me a lift we became closer,” Gloria, originally from Surrey, said.
The young couple got engaged at 18 after dating for more than a year and on March 23, 1974 they tied the knot in St James Church of England in Weybridge.
Still a long way from Scotland they grew their family to include Mark, Alison and Richard.
But when Martin was just 48 he suffered a heart attack and had been on medication ever since.
A move to Perthshire
Martin continued to work in labs and the couple eventually started their own business providing private laboratory services.
Based then in East Sussex their company was bought out opening the door for a move to Scotland.
Relocating to a rented home in Perth while Martin worked in Cumbernauld.
They diversified to prepare culture media to be used in NHS labs, pharmaceutical organisations and food companies.
The family were then able to buy a home in Birnam, Dunkeld.
They also launched new family business G and M Procter Ltd.
More success followed and again their own company was bought out but Martin and Gloria kept working for the new owners developing the business further.
Before Martin retired they opened a new factory in Perth.
Gloria, their son Mark – who had also worked in lab plate manufacturing – and Martin decided to try something new.
Clearing out the barn on their land and building on their knowledge of home brewing they started a microbrewery.
Named after the River Braan which runs near their home, Strathbraan was born and in recent years its beers have grown in popularity.
Tragedy during deliveries
Gloria said: “Martin and I have always done everything together.
“We met studying in the same lab, we have run businesses together, raised the family together and on the day Martin died we were delivering the beer together on what we call the long route.”
Although the beer is stocked in Dundee, Perth and Tayside they also deliver to East Lothian and into rural Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.
Martin, who had played rugby into his 30s, called for his wife when he started feeling ill.
“We had left home at 10, gone to Dundee and up towards Marykirk, over the Cairn o’ Mount and into Tarland.
“Martin went to pick up the empties when he called me.”
It was clear to Gloria that something was seriously wrong.
The family later discovered that the cause of death was cardio vascular degeneration.
Jumping into action hotel owner Bev Hughes and her staff called an ambulance.
“I don’t know what I would have done without them,” Gloria said.
“They performed CPR, ran and got the village defibrillator and kept working on Martin until the ambulance arrived about half an hour later.
“I can’t thank them enough.”
First responders crucial
Bev, who has been taking deliveries of Strathbraan beer for years now, was only too happy to help – despite the shocking circumstances.
“We’ve lived here for many years and there are so many plusses to rural life in this part of Scotland, but one of the drawbacks is being so far away from help when it’s needed.”
On the day when Martin died, the village’s part time First Responder service wasn’t active.
Bev added: “I’ve known Martin for a little while. He was a friendly man who was always really professional and easy to deal with.
“It’s been a great shock to all of us but reinforces the need for things like community defibrillators and trained people in outlying areas.”
A wonderful life together
As well as developing their beers, which included Head East and Due South blends, Martin loved gardening and time with his grandchildren.
And especially loved combining the two with trips around their land on the sit-on mower.
Gloria and Martin were approaching their 48th wedding anniversary.
She added: “We are all terribly sad and still in shock but grateful that in his final moments everyone possible did everything possible to try and save him.”
You can read the family’s announcement here.