MUSSELBURGH Conservation Society has appointed a new patron.

Shipping company founder Finlay Lockie succeeds Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, who retired recently after 16 years in the post.

Mr Lockie said: “The invitation from Musselburgh Conservation Society to be its patron came as a surprise and a huge honour – the more so because of the very distinguished men who had hitherto occupied that position.

“I hope I will be able to contribute something to the society and its objectives.

“I am particularly keen that the society should respond sufficiently early to policy, in particular draft Local Development Plans, so as to help ensure that conservation can be embodied in the thinking that lies behind those plans from the outset.

“This, though time-consuming and difficult, is vital if we are to be successful in resisting individual planning applications which take insufficient account of conservation principles, or indeed councillors for whom development at any cost might override good conservation practice in our area.

“It has been my experience that where we have a sound policy basis upon which to found an argument, it is much easier to persuade those who need to be persuaded, of the importance of conservation in planning.

“This, I believe, is one way in which we as a society can be an effective force for good.

“The responses to individual applications are, of course, the other part of the society’s work. But let us not forget that we should aim, in doing our work, also to enjoy our shared enthusiasm for our amazing built heritage and the social side too.

“I am looking forward to watching the forthcoming lectures on Zoom and hope that mine on the subject of saving Northfield House will be worthy of the others in the lecture series.”

Northfield House, Prestonpans, was a project taken on by Mr Lockie and his family when the property was bought from the marriage contract trustees of Walter Schomberg Hepburn Scott in 2000.

By then, the house and garden were derelict, having been unoccupied for three years and neglected for many more.

Mr Lockie started a 20-year process of preservation, the bulk of the work having been carried out by himself, with occasional assistance from his brother Hamish, a builder. Mr Lockie’s wife Kirsten was a helpful workmate, happy to climb scaffolding and paint windows in cold and dusty conditions.

Mr Lockie was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and was educated at the Rudolf Steiner School before starting a career as a lawyer having qualified from Glasgow University.

He practised law first in Edinburgh and then in the City of London with a shipping and aviation law firm. In 1997 he set up a shipping company which at its height owned and operated seven handy-sized bulk carriers, some of which called regularly with bauxite at Alcan’s aluminium plant in Burntisland.

Mr Lockie and his wife, along with their children Jamie and Alice, are set to move in the near future to another house in need of restoration.