IUHPE is saddened by the recent passing of Ian Young. We share tributes from those who knew and worked alongside him and extend our condolences to his loved ones.


Ian Macrae Young: MBE: A Tribute


It was with great sadness that I and Ian’s many friends and colleagues learned of his death on 19 July 2023. 


Ian was perhaps best known and respected for his leadership and pioneering work in developing the concept of the health promoting school, and indeed in its implementation.  This began to take form when he was Education Adviser at the Scottish Health Education Group and in 1986 organised with the European Office of the WHO the first International Conference with this as its theme.  Ian had a strong belief in the value and central role of education and schools in the healthy development of young people as is apparent in his editorial for a Global Health Promotion Journal  edition in 2005, and is reflected in the frameworks he created. That so much progress has been made in subsequent years is testament to his own work and that of colleagues who joined him.  In the latter stages of his career at NHS Health Scotland he led the organisation’s international programme and his lifetime’s work was rewarded by being made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2008.


Ian’s creativity was clearly evident in his publications, training programmes and manuals.  But those who participated in conferences he organised would also be very aware of his musical talents.  His guitar and sometimes banjo would often accompany him to these events.   His solo performances and leading of more communal singing provided an enjoyable and memorable social dimension, some time before the more recent recognition of the benefits of community choirs! 


His creativity extended to his skills as a photographer, with an extensive portfolio of work. He had a background in ecology and the biological sciences, and many of his photographs featured Scottish landscapes reflecting his understanding of and respect for the natural world.


Ian’s achievements and talents will be well recognised by those who worked with and knew him.   But above all else I will remember him as a wonderful individual who was good fun, great company, caring, thoughtful and generous – a privilege to have known as colleague and friend.


If you would like to hear (again or for the first time) Ian’s musical talents I recommend listening to the title track of his CD Time and Tide (https://open.spotify.com/track/0t1zNGDkgNE7z2Y6f9PAXu?si=63bb173161d047b8)


Graham Robertson

Past President IUHPE (2016-2019)


A tribute to Ian Young written by former WHO staff members Vivian Barnekow and Erio Ziglio


On 19 July, the day before his 77th birthday, Ian Young passed away in his beloved Scotland, surrounded by the love of his family, wife Anne and their sons Kenneth and Finlay, and their grandchildren.

Ian is someone you don't forget. We have lost an outstanding scientist, great human being and a unique friend. Everyone who met Ian remained enchanted by his charm, kindness and generosity, and impressed by his work expertise and academic achievements.  


His scientific knowledge ranged from biology and botany to medicine and public health. Ian was a greatly talented man: as well as being an admired musician, composer and songwriter, he was also a renowned and much published photographer who specialised in capturing images of nature and breathtaking Scottish landscapes. Ian was all this and much, much more: a unique, caring, special human being.


On a scientific level, Ian left a legacy in several domains. His contributions to the initial concept of Health Promoting Schools and the practical action needed to build them has no equal. Ian helped many of us learn what a Health Promoting School is really about.


Many people in WHO had the good fortune to work with Ian. He was a dear and committed colleague, and a caring mentor. David Rivett, for example, remembers his cooperation with Ian in disseminating the content and expanding the network of Health Promoting Schools in Europe. David recalls: “I first came across Ian in the late 1980s when I was working in London on young people's issues and later when I was responsible for the HPS and the meetings with the UK regions. His energy, expertise and experience was legendary. I remember how greatly he was admired by the HPS teams in the former Soviet republics for his training skills and publications”.


Erio Ziglio worked with Ian since the very early development of the Health Promoting School. He recalls: “I could always rely on Ian’s outstanding capacity to bridge scientific concepts with practical action. On so many occasions, when approaching a difficult decision or preparing to go on a complex country mission, I found myself thinking, ‘I had better call Ian …’”.


Another WHO colleague, Vivian Barnekow, worked with Ian on planning and conducting the first three European conferences on Health Promoting Schools, as well as a series of evaluation workshops – breaking new ground again. She says: “Starting from our joint work based on the Health Promoting Schools concept, we moved beyond the school setting into more broadly formulated child and adolescent health strategies across Europe. He has truly influenced policies and action in Europe within these areas of work.”


Ian’s emphasis and commitment was always on the children’s side. Teachers, parents and the wider community were seen as key supporters and resources for child development and well-being. For Ian, policies and programmes were conceived as a way of facilitating enabling roles to benefit children.


He was a strong advocate for children’s and adolescents’ rights, both in his homeland of Scotland and worldwide. He always had great confidence in young people’s abilities, given fair resources, access and support for improving their own health, well-being and for taking care of their natural and living environments.


Ian’s great sense of humour and his unmistakeable love of Scotland drew people to him. Over the years, so many of us from different parts of the world had the opportunity to be guests in his home. We shall never forget the warmth of his hospitality and the family and the musical evenings spent with him and his guitar.


Ian is, and always will be, one of our heroes: a true guardian of young people’s health.


Ian Young

Ian was one of the best advocates for Health Promotion not only within Europe but across many continents, his professional knowledge covered a wide range of topics but for many people he was a leading light in the field of Child and Adolescent Health.


The NHS in Scotland was fortunate to have Ian within its ranks and especially the National Health Promotion Agency which began life as the Scottish Health Education Group (SHEG). On the 1st October 1982 SHEG was designated a WHO Euro Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion and Ian was at the forefront of the work programme along with other colleagues; this work continues to this day.


Ian was also a strong advocate and supporter for the Health Behaviour of School Children (HBSC) research study whose principal funder was the National Health Promotion Agency, latterly NHS Health Scotland now part of Public Health Scotland. This study has been in place for 39 years and has 51 States involved and to date had involved responses from over 200,000 children and young people.


On of Ian’s passions was the development of the future generations of Health Promoters which he pursued through work with the International Union of Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE). Additionally in collaboration with two Professors from Rice University in Texas Ian hosted study visits based in Edinburgh for students from the University every couple of years. Not only did they cover the professional areas of work, but Ian ensured that Scotland’s history, especially music and culture, was included in the programme.


I knew Ian over a long period of time in various guises and I was fortunate to take over from him in NHS Health Scotland as head of the International Programme in 2008.  He left the most amazing files and documentation relating to his work and I benefited from that legacy.


Many people past and present within and beyond the world of Health Promotion, especially Child and Adolescent Health, will miss this man but know his work continues across the world.


David L Pattison

Former Head of International Development NHS Health Scotland.