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Obituary: Adrienne Airlie CA

ADA MACO Jun 17We are very sorry to inform you that our former Chief Executive, Adrienne Airlie passed away suddenly on Thursday 5th December 2019.

Adrienne's funeral was held on Monday 16th December 2019 at St Aloysius Church in Glasgow.

She was an inspirational leader and a truly kind and considerate individual who devoted her career to helping and supporting her clients and colleagues to achieve their ambitions and to get the most out of life.

Adrienne has been an integral part of Martin Aitken’s businesses and growth story and she will be sadly missed by everyone here in the accountancy and financial services businesses.

If you would like to get in touch, please send an email to Adrienne’s PA Christine Burnett: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Christine is collating condolence messages from Adrienne’s professional and business contacts and will pass them on to Campbell and the family.


Adrienne Airlie CA FCIE APFS, who lived in Glasgow, died suddenly on 5 December 2019 aged 61. She was born on 3 May 1958, and after receiving her BA in Accountancy from the University of Glasgow in 1979, Adrienne served her apprenticeship with Thornton Baker in Glasgow and was admitted to the membership in 1983.

After qualifying, she joined Deloitte Haskins & Sells where she worked in West and Central Africa. She was initially based in Lusaka, Zambia for six months before moving on to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast for a further two years. Africa was an area of the world that made a deep and lasting impression on Adrienne’s life and outlook and it was to there she would return many years later in 2017 and 2018 during her time as non-executive director with Mercy Corps Europe, the global humanitarian organisation.

Although she had met her husband Campbell, an engineer, whilst at university it was during their time together in Africa that their relationship épanouie. They returned together from Africa in 1985 and were married that same year with the first of their four children, Michael being born in 1990. They would go on to have another three children, Sarah, Mark and Rebecca and they were blessed with their first grandchild, Annie in 2013. Family always came first and was centre stage throughout Adrienne’s life.

Following her African sojourn, Adrienne left the profession to set up an event catering and delicatessen business with her mother in 1985. She ran ‘Canapes’ for seven years before selling up and returning to the profession with Mackie & Co in 1992, which then subsequently merged with Martin Aitken & Co (MACO) in 1994.Adrienne Airlie 2019

She often cited this time, 1985-92, as the single most important stage of her career. “There were so many pluses and minuses from those days that have stayed with me and helped me throughout my career”. She had worn ‘their shoes and walked the walk’ and she used this experience to her clients’ benefit whilst she was on the other side of the table as their accountant. Outwith family, clients were Adrienne’s life. “If I didn’t meet with clients’ and interact with the staff on a daily basis, quite frankly I’d give up. It is the people that make the job worthwhile”. 

Adrienne joined the MACO partnership in 1997 before becoming the firm’s Senior Partner in 2010 and Chief Executive in 2013 when the firm became a limited company. She also became a director and then Chief Executive of Martin Aitken Financial Services Ltd (MAFS) which was set up in 2001.

Alongside Jim McInroy and Ewen Dyer, she was an integral part of creating Martin Aitken’s tapestry and growth story over the past decade. She also made a significant contribution to Scotland’s accountancy profession and she was a passionate supporter of the voluntary and charitable sector. She held various roles with ICAS, including: Council member (2004-2011), Oversight Board (2009-2011), Policy Leadership Board (2006-2009 and 2012-2018), Disciplinary Board (2011-2019) and she was founder, a past-chair and, until her passing, a member of the Charities Committee. 

Adrienne was also a Board member of Mercy Corps Europe (2010- ) and from 2015 became Chair of their Audit & Risk Committee and a member of their Global Joint Board Executive Committee. More recently, she joined The Robertson Trusts’ Audit and Risk Committee and she became a non-executive director of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult after standing down as MACO’s Chief Executive at the end of 2018. She continued as a Director of both MACO and MAFS. She also found time to be a Director of the Scottish Family Business Association (2009-2018), a panel member of the Bank of England’s quarterly state of national accounts and to become President (2013-15) and then Treasurer of Newlands Lawn Tennis Club.Adrienne Airlie Kiltwalk 2019

Adrienne was a truly kind and considerate individual who devoted her career to helping and supporting her clients and colleagues to achieve their ambitions and to get the most out of life. She will be sorely missed by all at Martin Aitken and by the many clients, fellow professionals and friends she made during her career.

Let’s not end on too low a note, however. Adrienne was fabulous fun and all who knew her would attest and raise a glass to that. She would have much preferred if we end this on a smile.

Au revoir et merci beaucoup, Adrienne x

The quotes contained in this article are from an interview Adrienne provided to The Scotsman in March 2006.

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