Tributes have been paid to a former Wishaw-born police sergeant who has died at the age of 76.

Sergeant Thomas “Tom” McIlwain passed away on Monday, February 8, at University Hospital, Wishaw, with his loving wife Janette and caring daughter Aileen, by his side.

Last March, Tom had a kidney infection and while in hospital they discovered he had developed a problem with a heart valve. He was admitted to Wishaw hospital in January to treat an excess fluid build-up and unfortunately contracted Covid and sadly could not recover.

Tom was born in Wishaw to Tom and Maisie McIlwain. He was raised in Law Village with his older sister Margaret. He attended Law Primary then went onto Wishaw High School.

As a youngster, Tom played football and was a decent cross-country runner. He was also a member of the Boys’ Brigade.

On leaving school at 15, Tom became an apprentice painter and decorator with Barry’s in Motherwell. At the end of his apprenticeship, he was encouraged by his uncle to join the police.

Tom joined Dunbartonshire Constabulary on in December 1964 and served as a Probationer Constable in Helensburgh for nine months before transferring to Motherwell & Wishaw Burgh Police in September 1965, serving in Wishaw.

Then in August 1967, when the Burgh Forces amalgamated, he became a Lanarkshire Constabulary Police Officer and continued to work the beat in Wishaw.

Tom got on well with his shift, an honest, hard-working cop who enjoyed his work in the community and was well regarded by the public.

Tom joined his fourth Police Force on May 15, 1975, when he became a Strathclyde Cop. He remained at Wishaw, now with 10 years’ experience his good work impressed his supervisors.

In October 1976, Tom was appointed to the ‘P’ Divisional Licensing Department, based at Motherwell Police Office. His attention to detail and ability to liaise with the public helped to ensure the department ran smoothly, improving the links with many licensees etc.

In April 1978, Tom was deservedly promoted Sergeant to Shotts Police Office, his operational and office experience were evident to his shift and he was readily accepted and supported. He served for the next 10 years in Shotts, only interrupted with a four-month spell as Station Sergeant at Motherwell from November 1985.

Tom had many fond stories from his early days in Wishaw, but his favourite posting was the time he spent in Shotts.

On July 1988, the Divisional Sergeant pack was shuffled, and Tom was transferred to Patrol Sergeant at Bellshill.

Now a veteran in the Sergeant rank, he had no difficulty establishing himself on the shift and his counsel was readily sought and willingly provided.

Tom retired on 28 February 1994, with almost 30 years exemplary police service.

He decided not to take on further employment after his retirement as he had worked since he was 15.

He had many hobbies during his police career including bowls and fishing, but his one love was his garden. Tom enjoyed walking and took many holidays to the Lake District and Peak District to explore the British countryside. In later years, he ventured further afield, enjoying many holidays to Jersey, Italy and Malta with his wife Janette.

He enjoyed canine companionship, firstly with Sam, the Springer then Dougal, his beloved Golden Retriever.

He loved watching football and cricket. He attended many matches and enjoyed watching it on the television. Another love was his eclectic music collection from country and western, jazz, rock and roll and classical music.

Tom and Janette lived in the same village and when their relationship blossomed, they were married in March 1967 at Law Parish Church.

A happy life was made all the happier with the arrival of their three children Iain, Aileen, and Alan.

He was proud that his two sons followed in his footsteps to become police officers and that his daughter worked for a lawyer.


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Tom loved his family and his children’s spouses, Elaine, Ross and Susan and cherished them as if they were his own.

He was also a much-loved papa to Callum with whom he spent a lot of time conversing and shared his love of museums with.