A well-known figure in the Aberdeen-Angus world, Eddie Gillanders, has received an award from the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society for his “lifetime dedication” to the Aberdeen-Angus breed.
The prestigious Hugh Watson Memorial Award – named after one of the breed’s founders, Hugh Watson of Keillor in Angus – was presented to Eddie by Society president, David Evans, at a reception following the Society’s AGM at Stirling.
Eddie (72) joined the Society’s staff (then in Aberdeen) on January 5, 1959, at the age of 15 as junior clerk in the Herd Book department. Promoted to committee clerk in October, 1961, at the age of 18, was entrusted with preparing the agendas and minutes for the meetings of Council and committees.
Eddie left the Society in April, 1964, to pursue a career in journalism as assistant to the Agricultural Editor of the Press and Journal but returned to the Society two years later as press officer and later assistant secretary.
However, still hankering to continue in journalism, left in 1971 to return to Aberdeen (the Society’s office had moved to Perth in 1970) becoming marketing manager of the farmers’ co-op, North Eastern Farmers, and two years later back to the Press and Journal as agricultural editor, a post held for 11 years.
In 1984, Eddie decided to start his own farming magazine, Agri-Business Scotland, which was sold to the Peebles Publishing Group in Glasgow in 1989 after joining another farmer’s co-op, Aberdeen and Northern Marts, initially to launch the electronic auction system and then as marketing manager of the ANM Group until retiring in 2003 at the age of 60.
The following year, decided to get back into publishing and launched the bi-monthly farming magazine, Farm North East, which he continues to edit and publish.
When leaving the Society’s employment in 1971, Eddie was asked to continue editing the Aberdeen-Angus Review on a freelance basis which he continued to do until 2010 and in 1972 instigated the formation of the North East Aberdeen-Angus Club, acting as secretary until 2013. He was elected President of the club on his retirement.
No stranger to industry accolades, Eddie won the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ press secretary’s award in 1964, Netherthorpe Award as UK Agricultural Journalist of the Year, an annual award given by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists in 1984, the Royal Northern Agricultural Society’s award for services to agriculture in the North-east of Scotland in 2004 and MBE for services to agriculture and agricultural journalism in 2006.
Mr Evans paid tribute to Eddie’s devotion to the breed and presented him with a unique inscribed Rock Tablet hand crafted from raw glass. “Eddie’s involvement with the Society spans almost six decades, during which time he has witnessed the dramatic swings in fortunes of the breed. Throughout that time the breed has remained close to his heart and he continues to be a great ambassador, respected not only by members but also the wider agricultural community throughout the UK. It has been an honour to know Eddie ever since I became involved with the breed more than 20 years ago. He is truly a worthy recipient of the Hugh Watson memorial award.”
Eddie is only the third person to receive this honour, following in the footsteps of the late Sir John Moores of the Littlewoods pools and retail family, who bred Aberdeen-Angus for 60 years on his farm in Lancashire under The Moss prefix and veteran breeder, 85-year-old Willie McLaren of the renowned Netherton herd at Blackford, Auchterarder.