ONE OF the most innovative farmers of his generation, who diversified into tourism with holiday parks and leisure facilities, Douglas Campbell of Drimsynie, Lochgoilhead, has died, aged 79.

From humble beginnings as a tenant farmer, Douglas and his family built up a considerable business from his base in Lochgoilhead, to become one of the biggest employers in Argyll.

His family roots originated in Carradale, in the Mull of Kintyre, where his grandfather had the only shop in the village. His father served his time as a butcher and the family lived for a time in Greenock, where they had a successful butcher's business.

The Second World War's ravages on Greenock meant that Douglas and his brothers, Keith and John, were evacuated, originally to Carradale and then, because farming tenancies were relatively easy to come by in the 1940s, the family secured the rent of Strachurmore and Upper Succoth farms, Strachur.

Douglas attended Strachur School and rode his Shetland pony, Chumb, to school bareback with a rope halter and no bit, every day. He then went on to board at Strathallan School, Perthshire, but had to leave in 1950, aged 15, when his father died.

The farms carried two shepherds and two men at that time, and the brothers persuaded their mother to let them 'have a go' at running them. She gave them one year to prove themselves. In 1957, the family bought the farms as sitting tenants and purchasing them gave the brothers the opportunity to split the business and go on their own.

Being his own boss suited Douglas and he became noted for his drive and energy. One of his main aims was to establish a successful hill sheep flock.

From having Cheviot sheep, he spotted that Blackface sheep, especially the barer coated kind, were more suited to Argyll.

The result was that within a couple of years, the female stock from his farms led the trade at the nearest markets of Dalmally and Stirling.

He was an active member of Cowal Young Farmers Club and even then an ability to get things done was evident. He kick-started the local Strachur Show and was chairman of it in its first year. Douglas also had some good working sheepdogs, winning many prizes locally and nationally.

In 1962 his landlord wanted a bit of land back to start a caravan park in 1966. Douglas agreed but only on the condition that he ran the caravan park.

By this time, Douglas had married Jean, whom he had met at a Young Farmers dance in Toward. Together, they worked non-stop to meet the challenges of not only running a successful farming business, but also the demanding needs of tourists, while raising three boys, Keith, Allan and Roy.

In 1962, he employed one man, Donnie McMaster, as a shepherd and today, the business which he founded, now has around 250 employees and Argyll Holidays is one of the largest private employers in Argyll.

Douglas was known as a hard task master and expected monumental effort from his staff and his own family.

An early innovation for him was the Corrow Trekking Centre. But not content to have ordinary Highland ponies for his trekking centre, he built a stud of considerable influence and quality. He won the female championship at the Highland Show in 1980, was overall champion in 1982 and won the prestigious St Johns Wells Trophy three times. He even conquered England in 1984, being overall champion at The Royal Show.

Douglas became the youngest councillor in Argyll at the age of 34, in 1970. Though he stood as an 'Independent', he backed many local politicians of various persuasions in later years.

During a visit to Aviemore, Douglas had the idea of building the first hotel swimming pool and curling rink in Argyll, to be part of the Drimsynie House Hotel.

Another area that Douglas saw an opening for was a hydro power scheme, long before 'renewables' became a buzz-word.

A highlight for all the family was when Princess Anne visited Lochgoilhead to see the Drimsynie Holiday Village in 1989. Then, when the Americans moved out of Dunoon, the family business moved in, creating the Hunters Quay Holiday Village from a green field site.

Socially, Douglas enjoyed curling and travelled the world to watch 15 World Championships.

Local projects interested him greatly and quietly, he was a private patron of shinty, pipe bands, Highland dancing, the bowling club and such like. This dedication to local projects culminated in him being awarded Life Patron status with one of his favourite social events, the Cowal Highland Gathering.

The list of accolades achieved by the business over the years is astounding. But the one that gave Douglas and Jean most pleasure was when Argyll Holidays won the Scottish Family Business of the Year award in 2013. By that time, three generations were working for the business and no family member worked for anyone else.

Douglas is survived by wife Jean, sons Keith, Allan and Roy, their respective wives, Irene, Susan and Liz, and seven grand-children.