Obituary: John Young, chartered surveyor who could have played cricket for Scotland

Died: June 23, 2021.

JOHN Hamilton Young, who has died at the age of 80, was a big man in every sense. A chartered surveyor by profession and a natural leader of men, he was instrumental in helping to turn one of Scotland’s most venerable surveying firms, DM Hall, into the force it is today.

With his imposing physical presence and booming voice, John was for some a daunting figure. Those who knew him, however, knew differently, recognising a kind, considerate, and thoughtful man who, though immersed in the complexities of running a dynamic professional firm, always had time to advise, guide and mentor younger colleagues.

He joined DM Hall, which had established in 1897, in 1970, and opened the Glasgow office of the leading independent before spearheading a rapid expansion in the eighties which led to the firm now having 26 offices throughout Scotland and 250 staff.

In 1985, he was made Senior Partner, a role he relished as he increased DM Hall’s footprint with a swathe of new office openings to meet the rising demands of homeowners and a new property-owning environment.

He was also an accomplished sportsman, particularly good at cricket and hockey. In the former, he captained Uddingston Cricket Club between 1972 and 1974, and later became Honorary President. He still held the club record for the most wickets in a season and also for the most wickets taken in his playing career at Uddingston.

John Hamilton Young was born in November 1940 to William, a tax inspector with the Inland Revenue, and Mary Ellen. He went to Hamilton Academy before taking the RICS apprenticeship course.

He trained with the Hamilton Estates Office and earned his spurs as a chartered surveyor in 1964. He worked with Fyfe, Gerrard and Paton and then the Leicester Building Society, from where, at the dawn of the Seventies he began his long and pivotal relationship with DM Hall, with which his name continues to be synonymous.

At that time there was a drive to rid Glasgow of slum tenements and reduce the high proportion of council housing. From the mid-1970s onwards there was a major shift towards owner-occupation of residential dwellings. It was a period of dramatic change.

Young’s career in the residential property sector in the West of Scotland straddled a significant transition period away from social landlords, towards private housing and home ownership, during which there was a huge explosion in speculative large scale housing development in the late 1970s, and this continued throughout the 1980s.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in 1973, and for many years he applied his trademark authority as a prominent and influential voice for the Scottish property industry on a variety of RICS committees, in both Edinburgh and London. He was also a qualified and respected arbiter and a much sought-after expert witness.

He stepped down as a partner in the firm and into a comfortable retirement in 2005 and while, for most employees of DM Hall he is known now only by reputation, a clutch of older partners in the firm remembers him with great affection.

Alan Gordon, current Senior Partner, said: “Although John Young left DM Hall, DM Hall never left John Young. He was a major architect of the firm we know today, a huge presence, and a man who never demanded, but always commanded the respect of his colleagues and peers.

“His legacy continues today with the significant number of Partners still in the business who owe their careers in DM Hall and the Chartered Surveying profession to the opportunity handed to them by ‘JY’ many years ago. His wise influence continued long into his retirement, and will be sorely missed.”

Young began his cricketing days as a junior at Uddingston, aged 12, alongside Mike Denness (who would go on to play for Kent and to captain England). It was generally accepted that Young could have played for Scotland. At one stage Warwickshire asked him to come for trials but by then he was pursuing a career in surveying.

An ankle injury curtailed his promising career but by then he was captain of Uddingston Hockey Club and had started playing golf at Bothwell Castle. Latterly he moved down to the Cricket 2nd and 3rd XIs to help out with development of younger players. He later became Honorary President of the hockey club.

He served in the same position at Bothwell Castle Golf Club, where he was a long-standing member. His garden lay no more than a nine iron from the club’s greens. He served on the Main Committee and was Club Captain in 1985, and latterly served as Treasurer to the Seniors’ Committee.

He was part of the group which formed the Pro-Am Committee, which he chaired for many years and which, since its inception 36 years ago, has raised over £368,000 for local charities.

While at DM Hall he oversaw his firm’s ambitious sponsorship of many sporting tournaments and events in Scotland, not only the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews and the Western Union Cricket League but indoor athletics at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall and many more.

He is survived by his wife Janellen, daughters Katie and Jo, and grandchildren Roddy and Rhona.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992