Sandy McDonald

Alexander McDonald (5 November 1937 17 March 2016)[1][2] was a Scottish minister of the Church of Scotland who served as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1997 to 1998.

Alexander McDonald
Moderator of the General Assembly
ChurchChurch of Scotland
In office1997 to 1998
PredecessorJohn McIndoe
SuccessorAlan Main
Personal details
Born(1937-11-05)5 November 1937
Bishopbriggs, Scotland
Died17 March 2016(2016-03-17) (aged 78)
Erskine, Scotland
Children3, including David Tennant
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Trinity College, Glasgow


McDonald was born in Bishopbriggs in 1937, the son of Jessie Helen Low and Alexander M. McDonald.[2] He worked in the timber industry in the 1950s, prior to National Service in the Royal Air Force. He studied at the University of Glasgow before training for the ministry at Trinity College.[3][4]

Following theological studies in the 1960s, his first position after completing his studies was in the rural Church of Scotland, in Longriggend, north Lanarkshire, he served as minister at St David's Parish Church, Bathgate (19681974), then at St Mark's Parish Church, Ralston (19741988) and then as General Secretary of the Church of Scotland's Board of Ministry until he retired in 2002. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1997 to 1998. His formal title (following the end of his Moderatorial year) was The Very Reverend Dr. Alexander McDonald.

Television career

In the early 1980s, he co-presented the Scottish Television religious magazine programme That's the Spirit! and was also interviewed on VIP, also an STV religious show. His role as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland meant he was one of the public figures who led tributes to Princess Diana upon her death in 1997 in a BBC broadcast. In May 2008, he made a non-speaking cameo appearance in the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp", playing the part of a footman alongside his son. They also appeared together on an episode of celebrity Ready Steady Cook. He was one of the interviewees for his son's Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards in 2015, during which David dedicated his award to his father.[5]

Personal life

McDonald was married to his wife Helen (daughter of former footballer Archie McLeod) for over 40 years, prior to her death on 15 July 2007.[6][7] They had three children: a daughter named Karen, and two sons - Blair and David, the latter a well known actor with the stage name David Tennant.

In a 2015 interview, he disclosed that he was terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung condition. In the same interview, he spoke in support of "right to die" campaigns.[8] McDonald died on 17 March 2016.[9]


  1. Pocklington, Rebecca (17 March 2016). "David Tennant's father dead at 78: Former Church of Scotland moderator Dr Sandy McDonald passes away". Daily Mirror.
  2. Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ: The Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Volume 10. Oliver and Boyd. 1981. ISBN 978-0-71520-495-5.
  3. "Very Rev. Dr. Alexander McDonald". Frost's Scottish Who's Who. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. "Church pays tribute to former Moderator the Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald". Church of Scotland. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  5. Wyatt, Daisy (21 January 2015). "David Tennant honoured with special recognition at the National TV Awards 2015". The Independent.
  6. "Tributes pour in for Helen". Paisley Daily Express. 20 July 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011.
  7. "Deaths". Glasgow Evening Times. 19 July 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  8. Hyland, Jennifer (27 February 2015). "David Tennant's terminally ill Reverend dad calls on Church of Scotland to back right-to-die". Daily Record.
  9. "David Tennant's father and ex-Kirk moderator Sandy McDonald dies". BBC News. BBC. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
Religious titles
Preceded by
John H. McIndoe
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Succeeded by
Prof. Alan Main

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