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Tributes to Ryedale’s action man and talented sea captain

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Tributes have been paid to a man who lived up to his motto in life – “Don’t Waste a Day.”

Captain Ian Macdougal, who recently passed away at the age of 69 following a battle with cancer, led a rich and varied life which saw him appear as a stuntman in a number of James Bond films, serve as project manager and captain of the Grand Turk frigate and play a small, yet vital role in the design of the Concorde airliner.

Among his many other accomplishments were a spell as a wrestler, known as Big Mac, whose “foes” included Giant Haystacks and Mick McManus, and serving as a Justice of the Peace in Staines-upon-Thames, in London, where he was the innovator of a project for troubled youth.

But it was for his love of the water for which Ian, of Eastgate, Pickering, is most fondly known.

A Marine Engineer by trade, Ian owned a boat yard in Runnymede, on the banks of the Thames, where he also served as a Swan Upper and was always quick to offer a helping hand to stricken sailors – never asking for anything in return.

His skills also made him a valuable member of the Dunkirk Little Ships and North York Moors Railway, and transferred to the skies where he was an accomplished pilot, having part ownership in a six-seater aircraft.

Ian’s funeral took place at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Pickering, on Monday afternoon.

He is survived by wife Angie, children Jackie, Jenny, Andy, Duncan and Mimi, and three grandchildren.

“Ian had a huge presence, a huge personality and a huge heart. He was a man of principle and the value of friendship was so important to him,” said Angie.

Born in Cirencester on October 23, 1944, it soon became apparent that Ian would become an engineer.

As a three-year-old, he was found “squawking” underneath a door, having taken a screwdriver and attempted to copy his grandfather who had taken a door off its hinges one day earlier.

From this early misadventure, his skills developed, later transforming a lawn mower into a go-kart and, in his teenage years, building a 3 inch Gauge Locomotive from scratch.

Ian teamed up with his father to buy a boat yard in Runnymede, a business that he would be associated throughout the majority of his life. He built many boats, including the Eclipse, a Thames steam cruiser, worked as a Swan Upper and became involved with the Henley Regatta.

It was in these early days that he enjoyed a spell as a wrestler and, through his many friends, became a stuntman working on several different films and adverts.

Among his many film credits are Kelly’s Heroes, Planet of the Apes, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, From Russia With Love and The Talented Mr Ripley, where he nearly lost his leg in a diving incident.

He almost died in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker when performing a stunt in one of its more celebrated scenes, a boat chase in the Everglades. The scene asked for one boat to leap over another with Ian, on the bottom boat, almost losing his head – literally.

“He used to say that it isn’t very glorious, that it was a lot of hanging about for very little filming,” said Angie. “It wasn’t glamorous at all, it was just a job but that was what Ian did. He also did many adverts, winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival but he didn’t go because he was too busy.

“Ian didn’t do things for the glamour and wasn’t interested in the accolades, he did it because he could. He didn’t like to make a fuss.”

Ian was just as interested in his work as a Justice of the Peace in Staines where he started a project working with juveniles, encouraging naughty boys and girls to take an interest in engineering.

Such was the success of the project that it was later adopted across the country.

He also played a role in the design of Concorde.

Due to his experience of flying and understanding of aeronautics, he and members of the design team built the back wheels of the jet plane so “when it came into land, it didn’t scrape its bum on the ground.”

Ian’s relocation to North Yorkshire happened after he built and captained the Grand Turk which was moored in Whitby for many years.

The three-masted sixth-rate frigate was masterminded by Ian, the “hands-on” project manager, which was built in Marmaris, Turkey. It was built to provide a replica for the popular ITV series Hornblower, about the adventures of C.S. Forester’s Royal Naval hero 
Horatio Hornblower.

For many years, he toured the Grand Turk around Europe, also circumnavigating Great Britain.

In one popular anecdote, Ian – described as “very patriotic” – sailed the Grand Turk down the River Seine on Bastille Day – playing Rule Britannia and firing the frigate’s cannons to hundreds of nonplussed French families.

Mike Turk, the former owner of the Grand Turk, was among hundreds who paid tribute to the frigate’s Captain.

“Ian was a man with extraordinary skills, probably the most clever and talented man I have ever met,” he said. “A genius in so many fields”

It was while in Whitby with the Grand Turk that Ian met his future wife, Angie, in 2006.

Suffering from toothache, he popped into Whitby Hospital for treatment and ran into the dental nurse, later saying: “I came in with tooth ache and left with heart ache.”

They would later travel and work together in the Canaries and the Caribbean, also sailing together on the Grand Turk’s final journey from Whitby.

Ian married his “Yorkshire Rose” at Levisham Church on June 30, 2012.

The couple would live in Pickering and even on quiet days, Ian would still rise at 5.30am and could be found in his beloved workshop.

“His big love was his workshop because he was such a talented multi-faceted man,” said Angie, who revealed she has been “inundated with calls and cards from all over the world” following his death at St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough.

“I am overwhelmed by the kindness and the stories of his kindness that I have been told about.

“Ian would see something that needed doing and he would go and do it and help people without ever making a big fuss about it.

 

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