ONE of the stars of the Strictly Inverness charity dance spectacular has collapsed and died while on holiday in Spain.
Father-of four Gordon Macrae (55) took ill in his hotel room in Barcelona on Monday morning.
But despite medics being on the scene within minutes, he could not be saved.
Mr Macrae had spent the past year on a major drive to raise £10,000 for the Highland Hospice where his wife Nicky (53) died of a rare form of cancer in in 2010, less than a month after being diagnosed.
Last year he was one of the rookie dance stars in the Strictly Inverness dance contest in aid of the hospice when he partnered Jill Asher from Nairn.
Yesterday she said: “I can’t believe it. Gordon and his family have not been very far from my thoughts since I heard the shocking news on Monday.
“No matter what he had been through Gordon was always willing to listen.”
Mr Macrae, who lived in Tain and was a social worker with Highland Council, flew out to Barcelona with a friend last Tuesday for a 10-day break.
This week his twin brother David Macrae said: “They were due to go on a sightseeing trip to the mountain range of Montserrat on Monday. Around 7am his friend went through to his room and thought Gordon wasn’t looking very well.
“Gordon was grey in colour and was having difficulty breathing so an ambulance was called immediately. It was there within minutes but by this time Gordon had collapsed and unfortunately there was nothing they could do for him.
“Gordon had been diagnosed with a heart condition after Nicky’s death and he was on medication for it, but he never let it hold him back.
“We don’t know if a post mortem is going to be carried out in Spain as we are still liaising with the authorities there, but we believe it was a heart attack.”
Mr Macrae said: “Gordon was always full of life. He was a popular, happy-go-lucky guy who liked a laugh. He would do anything for anybody.
“Nicky was his rock, and it was very difficult for him after she died. He never fully recovered from it. But he was determined to do as much fundraising as he could and he threw himself into that challenge. Gordon was like that – he never did anything by half measures.”
Following the death of his wife, Mr Macrae and his family embarked on a mammoth drive to raise thousands for the Hospice in recognition of the five star care she received there.
Last year the Highland News exclusively told the moving story of how three days before she died, the hospice arranged for Mrs Macrae to make the journey across Inverness to Raigmore to meet her newly-born grandson, Ethan.
She was able to hold Ethan’s hand and have photographs taken with him. Just hours after meeting her grandson, Mrs Macrae slipped into a coma and never work up.
Linda Macdonald, Highland Hospice’s fundraising manager, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Gordon, and our heartfelt thoughts are with his family.
“Gordon’s enthusiasm and bright outlook on life was inspirational and uplifting. He had the ability to make those around him smile and feel better for seeing him.
“We had got to know Gordon very well over the last two years through his incredible support for the work of the hospice. He was completely focused on raising funds to help the charity and therefore others, and he inspired his family to do likewise.
“Gordon was a free spirit driven by thoughts and care for others. He will be hugely missed by many, and never forgotten.”