Willie McIntosh memorial cup has raised thousands to help families affected by stroke 10 March 2023 Ross McIntosh, 25, and his brother Jack, 22, are from Milngavie, Glasgow. When their dad Willie died of a pulmonary embolism 10 months after a severe stroke, their team-mates at Dundee University set up a football tournament in his memory and have raised thousands of pounds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. Brothers Ross and Jack shared a lot of good times with their dad, Willie. A love of music, model trains and bad jokes kept the banter level high at home. But it was football that really cemented their strong relationship as dad and sons travelled to see Rangers regularly and Willie coached Jack’s youth football team. After Willie’s untimely death, football has become the brothers’ way of doing something positive in their dad’s memory. In January, for the second time, they both took part in the Willie McIntosh Memorial Cup, a seven-a-side football tournament organised by fellow students at Dundee University, which has so far raised more than £1,100 for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. It means so much to our family that Dad’s memory lives on in this event. When the boys first came to us and said they had the idea for an event in Dad’s name, it was overwhelming. Then they said they wanted to do it for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, and that was so thoughtful because the help we got from the charity when Dad first had his stroke was amazing. The Willie McIntosh Memorial Cup has raised thousands of pounds for CHSS. Ross, 25, who is from Milngavie, near Glasgow, says: “It means so much to our family that Dad’s memory lives on in this event. When the boys first came to us and said they had the idea for an event in Dad’s name, it was overwhelming. “Then they said they wanted to do it for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, and that was so thoughtful because the help we got from the charity when Dad first had his stroke was amazing.” Willie, 61, was a sergeant with Strathclyde Police and then Police Scotland where he met his wife Ann. A triple leg break that caused DVTs and then a mini stroke forced Willie’s retirement from the force in his late 40s. Determined to stay fit, Willie found a new career as a Pilates instructor, having been impressed with how well that exercise helped him in his recovery. There was no warning, however, when he collapsed with a severe stroke at home in February 2021. Ross recalls: “Dad and me were into model railways, and we were in the railway room in the converted loft at home. He was fine and he went downstairs. Then Mum shouted to me to come down and check on Dad. We realised he was having a stroke.” Willie was rushed by ambulance to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Covid restrictions of the time kept the family away from him as medical staff worked to save his life. He spent three months in hospital before being deemed well enough to go home, now with severe mobility issues on his right-hand side and with aphasia, a disorder that causes problems with communication, often speaking and writing. Ross says: “Jack and I didn’t see Dad for six weeks after he was first taken into hospital. It was very difficult for all of us. We got him an iPad and downloaded lots of podcasts and playlists for him. But he didn’t know how to use it initially, so there were a lot of frustrated FaceTime calls. “At first all he could say was no, but the swearing came back quite quickly! To be honest, that was amazing because we thought ‘yeah, you’re still here’.” Willie’s recovery over the next few months was slow and steady. He used a splint and a stick and was eventually able to get back into his beloved model railway room and down a steep step to enjoy a coffee in the garden. We were worried about him coming home, but that where’s Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland really helped. Your website was brilliant for information and for reading other people’s stories on how they managed. We got such a lot of help and support from CHSS. The McIntosh family Ross says: “We were worried about him coming home, but that where’s Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland really helped. Your website was brilliant for information and for reading other people’s stories on how they managed. We got such a lot of help and support from CHSS. “Dad was still Dad. His intelligence hadn’t changed. It was just about a new way of communicating with him. We are lucky to be a close family, and we did everything we could to make things work, like getting adjustments to the house and a carer coming in so Mum could go back to working from home.” Just after Christmas, Willie started to feel a bit breathless and seemed very tired. He tested negative for Covid, but his breathing didn’t improve. Ann called 111 and a doctor who came to the house advised the family to take Willie to hospital. At the QEUH, scans revealed a series of clots on Willie’s lungs. He was admitted as doctors started treatment to break up the clots. Ross says: “We’d ordered a new train for the railway. I called him at the hospital to say it had arrived. We had a laugh – as a family, we all have a dark sense of humour. As I was talking to him, he said the doctors had just come into the room, so he hung up. “I took the dog a walk and when I got back in, we got a call to say dad was seriously ill and to get to hospital as quickly as we could. By the time we got there, dad had passed away. It was so shocking and sudden. “This has been the toughest couple of years of my life. I miss Dad so much, but we’re all so proud of him and his determination to make the very best of the situation. He hated doing nothing. He had to be busy, to be active. “The year of the stroke was the worst ever, but we still had some great times together. Dad and I were big Queen fans. I took him down to Newcastle to see Roger Taylor, the band’s drummer, in concert, and it was fantastic. We drove home via Northumberland and stopped at some gardens and to see a new steam engine at Bo’ness. Those are memories I will cherish.” The 2023 Willie McIntosh Memorial Cup took place on January 18 at Dundee University. Jack, 22, brought an invitation team from Milngavie made up of players who, like him, had been coached by Willie. Ross says: “Jack has already graduated and I’m graduating this year, but I hope we will be coming back for a few years yet to the tournament. It’s a really special way to honour our dad because he was such a special person.” You can boost the total for the Willie McIntosh Memorial Cup by going to the fundraising page.