JOCK Allan, who passed away recently at the age of 92, was a noted pedigree dairy cattle and sheep breeder, but was also a well-known character in the true sense of the word.

At the turn of the century he was one of this newspaper's Living Legends and nobody lives up to the title more than Jock.

Jock was rightly proud of his achievements, but not nearly as proud of them as his wife Helen was. They were a great team, Jock, the big, bluff uncut diamond and Helen, the restraining force when she thought he was pushing his ideas that little bit too far.

Born into the well-known Allan family, from Biggar, where British Friesian cattle from the family's Parkhouse herd were famous for decades. Even in Jock's youth, the Allan family's status as pedigree livestock breeders was assured. Enough income was made off the progeny of one British Friesian bull, Royal Keejo, to put all the Allan family sons in farms.

For the young Jock, this was to Southholm Farm, in the early 1950s, where he was soon joined by his wife, Helen. This was the farm that was to provide his pedigree prefixes. Times were tough in the early days and his dairy cattle would have had as much Ayrshire as Friesian blood in them in these days as they struggled to eke out a living. Laying hens was another cash crop.

Through hard work and business acumen, Hillhead of Covington was purchased and the pedigree dairy business and the Southholm Suffolk flock prospered.

For all that he was very much a forward thinker; Jock never really took to the Holstein. In the early 1990s, however, a Brown Swiss was introduced and she duly won the breed's national show at Chester, coming home with a magnificent cow bell round her neck as a permanent memento.

Suffolks were Jock's first love in pedigree sheep breeding, with the family having one of the oldest prefixes in the flock book. The Parkhouse flock first being registered in 1935.

He enjoyed considerable success at the breed sale in Edinburgh and also at Kelso Ram Sales. His breed highlight came in 1986 when Southholm Welcome made 7000gns to Jimmy Douglas and Sandy Lee.

Ronnie Black had judged the pre-sale show and had 'missed' Jock's lamb. In his own jovial way, Jock never let Ronnie forget about this.

He also judged Suffolks at the Highland, where he famously dispensed with protocol and asked for all the sheep to be turned in to the ring loose. No chance of him then being accused of judging the owners not the sheep.

About 25 years ago, Jock was becoming a bit disillusioned with the lack of commercial traits being bred in to the Suffolk and he turned his eyes to foreign shores.

The Texel would have been the obvious choice, with Jock being well acquaint with the Lanarkshire men who were at the forefront of the breed. But, no, Jock decided to take a further step in to the extreme unknown and opted for the Beltex.

He then became missionary-like in his zeal to promote the breed in face of much criticism, especially in the early days.

As part of the Biggar Beltex Partnership, the famous ram, Viagrow, was bought for 8000gns at Carlisle - and went on to become the most celebrated sire the breed has ever seen.

In 1998, he won both the English and Welsh Royal shows, before adding the Highland Show championship the following year.

Unfortunately, Viagrow had a poor scrapie rating and he did not make the semen sales fortune they should have.

However, when common sense prevailed and the scrapie schemes all fell by the wayside, the tup became popular again and even to this day his progeny and sons of his progeny are doing well in the show and sale ring.

Further judging stints at the Highland followed, along with the top office bearer's job in the Beltex society.

In the second half of the 1990s, Beltex broke new ground by winning the sheep championship at the Royal Smithfield Show. They were exhibited by David Gardiner, from southern England, but those 'in the know' knew that in fact these sheep were Jock's.

The presentation of the prize was made by Prince Charles to David Gardiner, but Jock was having none of this. He jumped into the ring and slapped the bemused prince on the back while informing him in rather fruity language that he was the breeder of said sheep.

By now, Jock and Helen were ensconced at Burghmuir and, as he wasn't getting any younger, Jock turned to the other extreme of the sheep breeding world and invested in a flock of 'easy care' Lleyns which remain at Burghmuir to this day.

Championship success at Dumfries was a highlight for his flock and even this year, tickets were being won at the Highland in the Lleyn ring.

Some would say that Jock lost control of his senses when he turned to the bloodstock industry 'for a bit of fun' in 2001 when foot-and-mouth had curtailed livestock showing.

The yearling filly, Burghmuir, was purchased in a sojourn to Newmarket, where the auctioneer had turned to trainer Linda Perratt to ask: "Is this man for real?" as Jock was waving his catalogue at him.

Unfortunately, Burghmuir picked up a serious injury in training and never fulfilled her potential on the racecourse. However, she did produce the dual Flat race winner in Cadgers Brig.

Jock and Helen were delivered the worst kind of blow in 1994 when son Tom was killed following an accident when leaving Ayr Show. The next year, Jock astounded many of his friends by returning to the event at Ayr racecourse. His thinking being that if he didn't go back right away, he might never return.

That steadfast resolution was to stand him in good stead for the next 21 years as he chalked up farming success after success.

In all the breeds Jock was involved in, he always was most encouraging to youngsters, often to the extent that if a dear tup was bought, Jock would offer to tup half the ewes in the country for free.

He also had a great ability to get folk to help him out. He marshalled a team of people to carry out butler and chauffeur duties, sheep preparation and lambing stints.

One thing Jock was not particularly good at was whispering. For years, you could see the fear struck in to the face of many a show judge as Jock approached the ringside to tell all and sundry where the mistakes had been made.

Not for him the quiet aside as to where the placings were wrong. Everyone and their granny was made aware of that particular judge's shortcomings.

Only as recently as this year's Biggar Show, Jock was heard to loudly enquire about a nameless judge: "Does this guy know anything about these?"

Jock was predeceased by Helen in 2000 and Tom in 1994. He is survived by his daughter, Lorna and two grandsons, Euan and Chris. The tradition of breeding pedigree sheep will continue at Burghmuir.