Late Berwick journalist’s book to raise money for prostate cancer charity

A respected Berwick journalist whose weekly newspaper columns had the ability to make his readers both laugh and cry will continue to help people even after his death from prostate cancer.
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A collection of 50 of Fordyce Maxwell’s finest Scotsman articles has been published by his family to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.

In When Trees Were Green, Fordyce – who died last year aged 77 – jokingly compares his own cricketing career to that of Don Bradman, recounting the time a “perfect cut” ended up through the kitchen window and into a pan of boiling soup being prepared by his mother.

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He also writes movingly about all his daughter Jacqueline’s first day at university and, most poignantly, about the Dunblane massacre, suggesting that all bereaved parents can do is “keep on keeping on” was one of the few things he could write about with certainty after his elder daughter, Susie, was murdered in 1982.

Fordyce Maxwell at the top of Cheviot.Fordyce Maxwell at the top of Cheviot.
Fordyce Maxwell at the top of Cheviot.

Fordyce’s son Tom, who edited the book, said: “One of my dad’s many gifts was his ability to write about any subject, from tragedy to politics to war to simple things like a school trip or a local football match, all with a beautiful, understated prose. He never needed to sensationalise.

“He would leave his many loyal readers laughing one minute and crying the next. But he was every bit as wonderful – if not more so – as a father and a husband, and we still can’t quite believe he’s no longer with us. But with this book, we will still hear his voice, laugh with him and cry with him, and he’d been so proud that, even after he’s gone, his many wise words will still be helping people to get through life.”

Tom said his father’s experience with prostate cancer will sound far all too familiar and that he hoped it would serve as a warning to others.

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He said: “My dad was very fit for his age and showed none of the typical signs of early prostate cancer. He would easily put people 20 years younger to shame and even went for an 11-mile hike in the Cheviots just a week before he was admitted to hospital just before Christmas in 2019, unable to walk due to previously undetected spinal tumours.

“He had gone to the doctor several times over the previous 18 months with back and shoulder pain, only to be sent away for physio rather than a scan. But if a pain can’t be explained, it could be something serious.

“We’ll never know for sure, but I think there’s a good chance he could have been with us for a few more years if his cancer had been caught sooner.”

He was awarded an MBE for Services to Journalism in 1995.

Seren Evans, head of events and community fundraising at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We’re so grateful for the support of Tom and the Maxwell family in producing this collection of Fordyce’s wonderful work and raising vital funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

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“Fordyce’s story shows why it is so important for men to know about their risk of prostate cancer and what they can do about it.”

When Trees Were Green – The Scotsman Articles of Fordyce Maxwell is priced £15 and is available from