Although Hew Hamilton, who died recently, was first and foremost a farmer, his business instincts and ability led him into also being one of the driving forces behind a pioneering environmental project that now employs hundreds of people.

After schooling at George Watson’s College, in Edinburgh, Hew went on to study agriculture in Edinburgh followed by a farm management course at Writtle College in Essex.

He came home to the family farm at Crosswoodhill, West Calder, and was soon transforming this traditional livestock farm. Cubicles with a slurry system were introduced, as were self-feed silage pits. He drained and re-seeded swathes of the farm, working all hours to dramatically increase the stocking of Blackface ewes and suckler cows.

As a true livestock farmer, nothing gave him more pleasure than to sell pens of cast ewes, ewe lambs or Charolais calves, beating his neighbours for numbers and price. Only three years ago, to his great delight, his Blackie shearlings took the second top average at the Stirling ram sale.

Recognising the truism of 'strength through co-operation,' Hew astutely promoted the selling of his lambs through the local Lothian Lamb co-operative where he was a founder member. He went on to be its chairman in the 1990s. His public service to the farming community also included two decades representing the South of Scotland on the British Wool Marketing Board, as well as a lengthy stint on the NFUS livestock committee.

Throughout his farming life, Hew was generous in sharing his knowledge and techniques with others. The visitors’ book at Crosswoodhill was peppered with signatures from the many visiting local colleges and organisations from as far away as Scandinavia and Georgia.

For years Hew and his wife, Geraldine – universally known as 'G' – shared their home with live-in students who were completing their practical year at Crosswoodhill. Thus, Hew helped shape many a farming career.

Another string to his diversification came in the 1990s with the introduction of holiday cottages on the farm. In a shrewd move, Hew recognised that G's energy and enthusiasm, could manage this part of the business much better than he could.

They had met en-route to a skiing holiday in Austria and they married in 1973. In a move emphasising his commitment to farming, when G was about to give birth to their first-born, Angus, in 1975, Hew was busy ploughing. While he was reluctant to stop before the field was finished, when he did complete the task, he was overjoyed at the news he had a son. Daughter Caroline arrived two years later.

Many farmers see holidays as a distraction to getting on with the job. However, Hew always ensured one of his many friends organised a ski-ing week abroad in convivial company.

In 1988, Hew and his cousin, Peter MacLaren, inherited Handaxwood from their uncle. He spotted the potential in the waste spoil heaps left unrestored by previous lime and sand quarry operators.

From small beginnings, Hew, Peter and son, Angus, developed Levenseat Resource Management, a waste and recycling business into a massive operation in Central Scotland, employing hundreds. The company is often the first to deploy new technology, leading the way and creating a more sustainable Scotland.

Even when making business trips down to London, negotiating and securing investment for the gasification power plant, Hew never left his farming roots far behind. With his grounded, no-nonsense approach and wry smile, he would often cut through the corporate jargon at business meetings with a practical and down to earth style which gained him the respect of many.

In 2018, Hew purchased neighbouring Crosswoodburn and Colzium, and saved these well-known sheep farms from going into forestry by running them alongside Crosswoodhill.

After a courageous and long fought battle with pancreatic cancer, Hew was laid to rest on the foothills of Craigengar, looking down on Crosswoodhill, over Woolfords where his father was born and out to the top of Handaxwood. He is survived by his wife, G, his children, Angus and Caroline, and grandson, Magnus.