By Karen Carruth Photos: Rob Haining

Metal detectorist Martin Smith didn’t realise when he dug a silver medal out of the ground that he would eventually be handing it over to the grandson of the owner, some 130 years after it went into the ground.

Martin found a silver ploughing medal on a field boundary at Priestside Farm, between Kilmacolm and Greenock, with an inscription from Erskine and Inchinnan Agricultural Society, awarding a first prize in the junior ploughing competition of 1889 to James Gilmour.

Martin said: “When I picked it up, the writing wasn’t legible, but when I got it home and gave it a clean I thought, there’s a story here, this belongs to someone.”

Martin put out an appeal to a couple of papers, and The Scottish Farmer ran a little piece asking our readers if they thought they had a claim on the medal.

Thankfully, Alan Baird, of Langholm Farm, in Symington, saw it and phoned his friend, also called James (Jim) Gilmour, from Kilbirnie.

He thought that the medal belonged to his pappy and he got in touch with us, and we put Martin and James in touch.

Martin did a little background investigation himself. He went to the library and looked through back copies of the Greenock Telegraph to see if he could find a mention of the ploughing match, but there was none, he then researched the agricultural association which is now disbanded, and he managed to find the late James’ grave in Greenock, and took a picture of it for Jim to see.

All other James Gilmours born around the right time had middle names it seemed, but Jim’s grand-father didn’t have a middle name, and there is none on the medal. The birth dates tied in with the medal dates, making James 20-years-old when he won the medal.

Jim remembers his grand-father as a farmer in Kirkoswald, and a man who really loved horses, a passion that has been passed down to Jim, who was involved with horses as a young man, and still has many paintings of racehorses and Clydesdales on his walls today.

He does remember a story about his forebear training an American trotter for a Greenock butcher: “That’s a great story, isn’t it,” he said.

To meet Jim Gilmour, aged 79, is to meet one of life’s tonics. Full of stories, lively and fun, we had a lovely morning with him and Martin handing over the medal officially.

Jim’s sister, Janette, has been told all about the medal and is looking forward to seeing it too.

Jim said: “I want to thank Martin for this with all my heart, this is quite an event for me. I’ve a funny feeling about this when I hold it ... I think I’m feeling vibes,” he says, while laughing.

“Is that not something. I’m feeling quite emotional and my father would be delighted to know that I have this now, and I’m sure he can see what has happened.” Jim plans on having the medal framed and put in pride of place on his display case.