Tributes paid to ‘Father of Scotmid’

Bert Hetherington in his RAF uniform
Bert Hetherington in his RAF uniform

Motherwell man Bert Hetherington, who was known as the “Father of Scotmid”, died suddenly last week at the age of 95.

A grocer to trade, after leaving the RAF he joined the Dalziel Co-operative Society which would go on to open stores in Wishaw and Motherwell in the 1970s.

However, after the Fine Fare store in Brandon Parade South was taken over by Asda Bert realised he had to act in the face of new competition.

Travelling to Stoke he witnessed the work of the Midlands Co-operative Society and was so enthused he came back determined to form a Scottish Midlands Co-operative.

Bert wrote to every other co-operative society in the central belt, but received just one response, from St Cuthbert’s Co-operative Society in Edinburgh.

At the time Dalziel had turnover of £11m, but St Cuthbert’s was the far larger company with turnover of £45m.

However, in 1981 a deal was struck and the new Scottish Mid Co-op was formed.

Today the firm has turnover of £440m a year and employs 5,000 staff.

Tom McKnight became Dalziel’s road transport manager in 1975 before taking on the role for the whole of Scotmid and is now chairman of Scotmid’s West Regional Committee.

He said: “As a manager he ran the Dalziel society like an RAF station, he was very efficient and took no prisoners.

“However, he was adored by all of the staff and they in turn lived up to his standards for excellence, we had a terrific reputation for quality and that was all down to his leadership.

“It was his drive to keep the society going in the face of fierce competition from the new supermarkets and he truly was the Father of Scotmid

“It was a shock to hear he had died and he’ll be sadly missed.”

Bert’s funeral took place at Holytown Crematorium on Friday.