Moray man turns childhood dream into reality
A COUNCIL manager who ended up critically ill after taking voluntary severance is about to fulfil a childhood dream.
Gordon Sutherland is preparing to hit the road in a custom designed campervan seeking out golf courses the length and breadth of the UK.
Mr Sutherland, who was widowed last June, left his job as planning and economic development manager at the local authority in April.
But before he could enjoy his semi-retirement, he was rushed to hospital with critical pneumonia and septicaemia.
He spent nearly a month in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, moving from intensive care to high dependency before undergoing an operation and then back to intensive care.
Back home in Elgin, he is gaining strength and has now taken the keys to his brand new holiday home on wheels.
His first road trip will fall on the first anniversary of the death of his wife, Elisa, who spent 16 months in hospital in Aberdeen after being diagnosed with Neurosarcoidosis.
Mr Sutherland said: "Basically the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the organs and it attacked her brain and her spinal chord.
"Elisa passed away last June. My wife and I always enjoyed travelling across Britain whenever possible.
"So I’m delighted to be able to realise the plan to be footloose after having it so nearly snatched away.
"My advice is appreciate your friends, don’t delay if you have a plan to do something and take time to smell the roses while you can."
As a child, Mr Sutherland lived in Danbury, in Essex, where the original Danbury conversion VW campervans were made.
Since he was 10, he has aspired to owning a campervan and, after taking up golf aged 15, he has long dreamed of combining the two.
That's now about to become a reality and Mr Sutherland thanked NHS Grampian for the care and support he received.
He said: "I turned 52 on the day I took sick when playing golf with pals at Dufftown. I didn't feel great so I went home and got to bed.
"A week later, I had gone downhill and couldn't breathe so called the ambulance and they took me to Dr Gray's and then I was whizzed off to Aberdeen.
"I'm so grateful to them for looking after me so well."
In an added twist, Mr Sutherland had responsibility for the local Business Gateway and the company he purchased his van from, Elgin-based D&R Custom Campers, benefitted from a start-up grant from the Prince's Trust for its body shop business. Mr Sutherland said: "I'm really happy to be using a local business that is growing and diversifying."
The campervan company was set up three years ago by Dave Main and Ross Adam to run alongside D&R Resprays.
“We made this decision as we noticed there was a growing interest in Volkswagen T5/T6 and a lack of converters in the area," said Mr Adam.
It took just three weeks to convert Mr Sutherland's van into a fully-fitted four berth camper complete with storage for his beloved clubs.