ARUN’S new chairman is anticipating a musical year for his first term in office.
Councillor Dougal Maconachie was elected to the role earlier this month, taking over from East Preston councillor Terence Chapman.
And speaking to the Gazette after accepting the chain of office, Dougal, 67, said he was keen to get started.
“This year I will be supporting the West Sussex Music Trust,” he said. “They lost their funding from West Sussex County Council last year which has been hard.
“They’re more or less on their own and they need that extra bit of support.”
The trust provides music education to children and young people throughout West Sussex.
Dougal, who is one of the Conservative ward councillors for Barnham, said he went to watch the group playing in Worthing, earlier this year, and was impressed by their performance.
“I was so bowled over by the concert that I knew then they were going to be my chosen charity for the year,” he added.
And for Dougal, music has been a thread in his life of which he is very proud.
He is an accomplished pianist, having trained at Scottish independent school Fettes College, in Edinburgh – the same institution attended by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“Although the less said about that the better,” Dougal quipped.
He also enjoys listening to Classic FM and explained that he can no longer play the piano as well as he once could after losing his left eye to cancer, in 2009.
Speaking of his fight against the condition, Dougal said: “I had this flickering in my eye which was getting worse. I couldn’t see everything.
“I went to my GP and then to St Richard’s Hospital where I was referred to a specialist.”
Within ten days, he had an operation to remove his eye.
Since then, he said he has managed to adapt to life.
“You just have to get on with it,” he said.
As part of his chairmanship, Dougal will be organising a number of concerts, with a major performance planned for November.
He also hopes to hold a masked ball.
“I think this will be a really special event – something quite different.”
Dougal joined the council in 1995 as the ward member for Marine, in Bognor.
After losing his seat and taking a sabbatical, Dougal became a councillor again, this time in Barnham, in 2007.
Throughout his time as chairman, Dougal will have the support of his wife of 33 years – and former Arun chairman and current district councillor – Jacqui Maconachie.
Dougal has two stepchildren and five step grandchildren – with his first step great-grandchild, Calvin, having been born last Tuesday.