Left to right - John Angus Mackay, Provost George Adam, Dame Evelyn Glennie (Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Humanities), and Professor Alan Riach. 

John Angus Mackay was the recipient of the Scottish Saltire Society’s ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award in Aberdeen last week. 

Mr Mackay received his award for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to Public Life’.

A native of Siadar, on the West Side of Lewis, John Angus Mackay began his career with the Highlands and Islands Development Board, before moving on to become CEO of Comunn na Gaidhlig, and Chair of the BBC’s Gaelic Advisory Committee.

He received an OBE for services to Gaelic broadcasting, and served as Chair of Trustees of the Gaelic National Gaelic College Sabhal Mor Ostaig based in Skye.

Here he co-developed the think tank Barail, which revisited the concept of a Highlands and Islands University. 

Out of this the UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands) was ultimately created. 

Mr Mackay was subsequently Chair of UHI’s Language Policy and Plans Working Groups, a Board member of Lews Castle College and Pro-tem chair of the Multi-Agency National Gaelic Education Strategy Steering Group.

He was a Member of Scottish Arts Council and Chair of the Combined Arts Committee, and was also Board member and Chair of the Development Committee for An Lanntair Arts Gallery in Stornoway and latterly Chair of the Board. 

He was also Founder member and Board member of The National Gaelic Arts Agency – Prosieact nan Ealain and Board member of the publishing company Acair.

On retiring from the field of Gaelic broadcasting Mr Mackay was persuaded to become Chair of NHS Western Isles, which at that time was in a sorry state. 

In three years he turned it round into a model health board, and in this time he was also a member of the NHS Scotland National Performance Management Committee.

The world of Gaelic called again and after serving as a board member of the new statutory Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Mr Mackay was appointed as CEO, once again turning the organisation round to become a model of good practice. 

He is so far the only person to be CEO of the only two statutory Gaelic organisations GTC/BnG.

John Angus Mackay is married to wife Maria, and has four sons – Derek, Peter, Ciaran and Micheal.

Receiving his award, he commented: “I am very pleased and deeply honoured to receive the Fletcher of Saltoun Award from the Saltire Society. In particular, I would like to accept it not only on my own behalf, but in recognition of the advice, encouragement, support and friendship that I have had from many people along the way  - not only in Scotland but internationally. Gaelic language and culture has contributed to Scottish life, and the wider world, for many years, and I have been privileged to have the opportunity to ensure the continuity of that contribution through engaging with communities and changing institutional perspectives and behaviours.

"I am very grateful to the Saltire Society for recognising that."