Matthew Clark Blair
Matthew Blair was born in Bridge of Weir, went to the local primary school then Camphill School,
He used to display with some pride a large scar on his left hand, saying that he had almost lost
three fingers as the mark of his apprenticeship as a butcher, after leaving school. He completed
his National Service, mainly as a cook with the rank of Corporal, in the Army Catering Corps. He
spent two weeks with the chefs at the world-famous Park Lane Hotel in London, in preparation
for cooking demonstrations on the Army Stand at the 1948 Ideal Homes Exhibition, Olympia.
Leaving the army in 1940, Matt spent two years as a butcher, then joined the Coats organisation
as a material mover at Ferguslie Mills, Paisley in 1951. In September of the same year, Matt
enrolled at Paisley Technical College, for a City and Guilds Certificate for Textiles in 1956.
Coats philosophy to provide a studious, hardworking young man with an opportunity to make
good was borne out, and Matt progressed from worker to foreman in 1953 and then to Trainee
Departmental Manager in 1955. His responsibility increased in the Coats Organisation in
England, 1956, Chile 1957-65 and India 1966-70 until Brazil in 1970 to manage Linhas Corrente
spinning and twisting mill at Vila Ema.
While at Vila Ema, Matt distinguished himself not only as a fair and efficient administrator but
also as someone who took an interest in his work force. This was seen in the attractive
appearance of the mill grounds, by improved welfare facilities for the work force and his
personal interest in his colleagues whatever their position.
Matt met and married Toinette when he was working in Chile and they had four daughters,
Marie, twins Pamela and Deborah and Vivian.
Matt was a very keen Rotarian and the founder President of the chapter in Vila Alpina, where
there is to this day the “Matthew Clark Blair Hall”. His name was fondly remembered at a dinner
in March 1997 commemorating 22 years of the Vila Alpina Rotary. He was also an avid
sportsman, winning the Quaich golf competition in 1970, and an accomplished football player
in his younger days. He organised several football matches in 1975 against SPAC, Copebrás, the
Danish Colony and the Auld Enemy. He listened to the BBC sports results every Saturday night
and travelled to World Cup games. Maybe it was on one of these trips that he parked a hired car
in a limited parking meter and went to a late “pairty”. He discovered the next morning, that the
car, documents and keys had disappeared, and he couldn’t recollect the registration number or
any details. He had literally ‘lost’ a car in London!
As far as the Society is concerned, Matt was press ganged into substituting Ian Innes as Secretary
the very day he arrived in São Paulo. This decision was originally taken to guarantee the
necessary continuity through Vila Ema manager’s secretary, who, did all the essential
administrative work and knew all the background necessary. This was a good decision, borne
out by the fact that Matt continued as secretary until 1973. In fact, Matt must have been unique
as the one who first served on the Committee only as an office bearer - Hon Secretary 1970-
1973, Vice President 1974, President 1975, Ex-oficio 1976.