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Alasdair is a Scot who was educated at Dollar Academy and went to Australia at 14. He continued briefly at Brisbane State High School and got his first job in commercial radio station 4BH in Brisbane at 15. He worked as a journalist on The Age newspaper in Melbourne before he returned to Scotland to become a reporter for The Aberdeen Press and Journal and Evening Express and then a broadcaster with the BBC in Scotland, London and Northern Ireland. He also trained as a film director and was a Producer with BBC Radio Shetland.
He served for ten years as a Scottish Conservative Party Member of the European Parliament for the South of Scotland European Parliament constituency between 1979 and 1989 and later served as a local Councillor on Scottish Borders Council representing Kelso from 2002 to 2012. He was Convener (Mayor) for nine years from 2003 to 2012 . He is divorced from Deirdre Hutton by whom he has two sons.
He became the Storyteller and writer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 1992 which neatly brought together his experience in broadcasting with his weekend "hobby" as a TA Paratrooper with 15 Para – the Scottish Volunteer Battalion of The Parachute Regiment with which he served from 1964 to 1986. He also served with CVHQ attached to UK 1 Div for the next ten years and as Honorary Colonel of the Lothian and Borders Battalion of the Army Cadet Force from 2006 to 2009. He has been a Member of the Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland – The Royal Company of Archers since 1988.
Since then he has gone on to become the most experienced presenter of tattoos and big shows in the English-speaking world adding concerts, DVDs, seminars and conferences to his experience as a speech writer and maker.
In 1997 he published an anecdotal history of his TA Para Battalion "15 Para 1947 - 1993". He published a children's book "The Tattoo Fox" about the adventures of a Border fox who goes to live on Edinburgh Castle Rock and loves the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2013 and published a sequel "The Tattoo Fox Makes New Friends" in 2014. In 2016 he celebrated 25 years as storyteller and writer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and wrote an account of the Edinburgh Tattoo and the others he has narrated around the world in a book called "The Greatest Show on Earth". He also published a Treasury of Scottish Nursery Rhymes just before Christmas 2016.
He is a founder member of the Robert Burns World Federation Guild of Speakers. He is also Patron, Borders Talking Newspaper; Patron, Borders Independent Advocacy Service; Trustee, LiveBorders; Trustee, Victor Murphy Trust; Life Member and immediate past Chairman, Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club; Former Chairman and Vice President, John Buchan Society; Chairman, South East Scotland Committee, Order of St John; President, Edinburgh, Lothians and Border Area, Royal British Legion Scotland; President, Kelso Branch, Royal British Legion Scotland; President, Scotland and Northern Ireland Region, Parachute Regimental Association. Elder, Kelso North Church of Scotland;
He was appointed to the Order of the British Empire as a Member in 1986 and raised to Officer in 1989. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1977 and was invested as a Serving Brother of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 2014.