ONE of Scotland's best known farmers has died at the age of 72.

A former Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland director, Mr Neill, of Thorngreen, Blairgowrie, was well-recognised as a man with a huge knowledge of the country's farms and farmers.

Although primarily an arable and soft fruit producer, his interests in the industry were wide-ranging and included breeding and showing pedigree Suffolk sheep.

Allan was born in Dundee in September, 1943, and lived his early years on the family farm at Cowford, Menmuir. His father, James, headed north with the family to North Bethelnie, near Oldmeldrum, in 1948. After eight years in Aberdeenshire, the Neills moved to Isla Park, on the outskirts of Coupar Angus.

Over the years the business expanded steadily, notably with the major acquisition of Thorngreen in 1961. This farm, with its panoramic views across Strathmore, was to become home to Allan and his wife, Ella, for more than 50 years. They celebrated their golden wedding only last year.

It was at Thorngreen that they brought up their three children, Douglas, Marion and Graeme. Allan farmed with his sons and his brother, Ian, is also a partner in the family business.

Easter Denhead, at Coupar Angus, where the business is based now, was added later and most recently, Kercock and Bishophall farms, at Ballathie, were purchased.

Allan started his public life as chairman of Blairgowrie Young Farmers Club, at that time one of the largest and most successful clubs in the country. Apart from his RHASS directorship, he was president of Alyth Show, a Perth Show director, president of Ardblair Curling Club and chairman of Blairgowrie's Braemar Day.

His interests outwith the farm saw him taking up a number of directorships in businesses involved with marketing potatoes and soft fruit. Allan's hobbies included fishing, shooting, horse racing and reading.