Hector was the poet laureate of sheltered housing complex

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POIGNANT tribute has been paid to a legendary figure who became the poet laureate of his sheltered housing complex.

Hector McHendry entertained fellow residents with his poems – and was often asked to pen verses for birthdays, retirals and current events.

The grandad had been writing poems for decades and many were published in newspapers – including the Kirkintilloch Herald.

He passed away last month at the age of 84, but his wonderful poems remain as a fitting testament to an inspirational man.

Daughter Alieda McKinney plans to collect her dad’s works into a book and poems will also be sent to Bishopbriggs Library.

Hector was known at Whitehill Court sheltered housing complex in Kirkintilloch – where he moved from Townhead in 2008 – as the Wayside Poet, as a lot of his subject matter was from observation.

The storyteller was lauded for his poems – recently winning a prize for one he wrote on the 60th anniversary of the NHS.

Daughter Alieda said: “He was great company and devoted to his family. He loved being around people before he became so unwell and was unfailingly kind and generous.

“Writing poetry for people gave him great pleasure.

“It is a great regret of mine that I didn’t have time to put all his work together whilst he was still alive, as he often talked about getting it put into a book. I know he loved to see his work in print.”

Hector was born on January 11, 1928, and brought up in Springburn. He joined the Merchant Navy at 14 – travelling the world during the Second World War.

He married Jess in 1957 and Alieda was born in 1962, their only child.

In the 1970s Hector became a resident caretaker with Hacking and Paterson in St Vincent Street, Glasgow.

It was here he began to write poetry – penning verses for staff and also taking a sideways look at current events.

First grandchild Tanya was born in 1991 and was the apple of his eye.

Hector’s beloved wife Jess became ill with cancer around this time and he spent two years nursing her.

A second grandchild, Graeme, was born in June 1995. Sadly, Jess passed away in January 1996.

Hector was lost for a time, writing some very poignant poems – particularly one for Jess called ‘I only cry on Sundays’.

He moved to Kirkintilloch in 1998 to be nearer his family and third grandchild, Duncan, was born in November 2000.

Alieda said: “He was devoted to his grandchildren and was often seen at the mother and toddler group.”

Hector had been a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with emphysema and bronchitis in his 50s, although he gave up smoking when his grand-daughter was born.

He was eventually diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which took its toll, and he began to attend Twechar Daycare Centre.

Alieda said: “Here he made friends and began once again to write humorous poetry for the staff and other elderly friends.”

In 2008 Hector moved to Whitehill Court sheltered housing complex and quickly became the resident poet until 2012, when his health deteriorated again.

At the end of September he was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and never fully recovered, passing away on November 5 with Alieda at his bedside.

Hector’s legacy is the many memories treasured by family and friends – and, of course, his wonderful poems.

Alieda is planning to collect his poems in a book and some will be kept for posterity at Bishopbriggs Library.

Hector is pictured with his late wife Jess and their first grandchild.

The March of Time

I’ve always lived life to the full

As most folk strive to do

In fact it’s been my golden rule

To which I’ve been quite true

At times it’s been exciting

And other times quite sad

But everything considered

It hasn’t been too bad

Now my little story’s told

Comes the saddest part

For the quick years pass

And my body grows old

Around a still young heart

By Hector McHendry

The Wayside Poet

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