AYR-BASED agricultural consultant Jim Ritchie has retired after almost 43 years with Scotland’s Rural College.

To celebrate his decades of service with SAC Consulting, colleagues from far and wide attended a special lunch at the college’s Ayr campus.

After graduating with a degree in General Agriculture from the University of Edinburgh, Jim joined the then West of Scotland Agricultural College in 1975. After six years based in Campbeltown, he transferred to Ayr, where he acted as local adviser for East Ayrshire, working with both dairy and beef and sheep farmers.

In 1985, Jim moved to the newly created Rural Business Unit at Auchincruive, where he stayed until 2004. His work in the RBU saw him cover the entire south-west region and involved providing vital information such as business planning and forecasts for many farmers liaising with their local banks.

From 2004 to 2016, he continued to work for SAC Consulting, while still keeping up links with the College Farm in Auchincruive until its closure in 2014. After reducing his hours to work part time in 2016, he remained an integral part of the team and continued to work closely with farmer clients until his retirement last month.

Spending four decades in one organisation allowed Jim to witness a range of advancements and pivotal moments in agricultural history, including the introduction of Milk Quotas in 1984 and huge leaps forward in technology. He is now looking forward to going travelling with his wife, Anne, and spending more time with his family, including his two-year-old granddaughter.

He said: “When I started working at the college, technology was very limited. There were three telephones, a golf-ball typewriter and a Gestetner duplicator. There were no computers, calculators or photocopiers. It’s very exciting to have lived and worked through great advancements in technology, and witnessed the opportunities it has provided and will continue to provide to improve technical and business efficiency.”

SAC Consulting managing director Mike Wijnberg said: “Following 42 years of dedicated service, on behalf of all of us at SAC Consulting, I would like to wish Jim all the best in his well-earned retirement.

"The kind wishes from not only Jim’s local office but from our offices right across the country show the high level of respect in which he was held by his colleagues. He will be missed too by the numerous clients he has assisted over the years with his calm and measured advice, that helped to provide support when it was needed most.”