THE death of shepherd, George (Geordie) Watson, on November 16, 2015, deprived the Scottish Blackface sheep world of one of its most respected characters and many people from all over the country who packed Straiton Church for his thanksgiving service was testimony to that.

Born at Douglas, Lanarkshire, Geordie moved to Ayrshire when he was nine years old.

As he had always loved working with sheep, Geordie skipped Glaisnock school to do his first lambing at 14.

When he left school, he went to work at Garleffan, Cumnock, for Mrs Brown and it was there he learnt to bring out and dress Blackfaces, first showing at Straiton Show from there, 60 years ago.

He loved all aspects of 'herding, but his favourite part of his job was breeding and showing and he took great pride in always turning out his sheep looking their best.

His knowledge of the Blackface breed and dog trialling was called for many times and he judged at shows and trials all over Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In 1979, Geordie moved to Baing, when he went to work at Craig, Straiton, for A Paton and Co.

His many successes there, at sales and shows, were topped when he brought out the world record breaker, Sparky, which sold for £29,000 in 1987.

In 1993, Geordie brought out his favourite tup, Danny Boy (£22,000), which he named after his father, Daniel, who had died that year.

It was always one of Geordie's regrets that his father did not live long enough to see him gain a place, also that year, in the Scottish sheep dog trialling team, with his dog, Nap, which also won the Scottish sheepdog driving championship trophy.

After his retirement, Geordie went on to run his own small flock of Blackies at Knockbreck and, along with son, Scott, had recently been trying out a breeding programme using embryo transplants.

Although it was a blow when he was diagnosed with leukaemia four and a half years ago, Geordie never complained and still attended shows and sales when he was able,

He was always optimistic - looking for that special lamb or looking forward to his next show, but would not have been able to do this for so long, however, without the help of good friends, Wull McMillan and Wullie Welsh.

Geordie leaves behind Georgie, his wife of 50 years, their family of five and their partners, and also his eight grandchildren, all of who he loved dearly and who loved him dearly in return.

He said, more than once, that he had had a great life and had loved the life that was given to him, nobody could ask for more, and it was no more than this special man deserved.