Lifelong stockman, Bert Rugg, BEM, recently passed away at his home at Lownie, Forfar, aged 91 with his wife Peg, daughter Marilyn and family by his side.

Born at Advie Mains, near Aberlour, as one of five – brother to the late Geordie, Jimmy, Teen and survived by Eva, who lives in Australia – during his childhood, Bert helped a local farmer with his small Aberdeen-Angus herd which would have been the beginning of a lifetime interest in the breed.

He started work at Tillyrie, Milnathort, at 14 and then shortly afterwards moved to Harviestoun, at Dollar, as a junior stockman to fulfil his love of producing cattle for the showring, something which lasted throughout the changing breeds in the cattle industry.

Whilst at Harviestoun, in the 1940s Bert produced four champions in succession at the Perth Bull Sales as well as meeting Land Army girl, Peg Gourlay, who was to become his wife of 68 years. They courted in the late 1940s, with distance and transport being no barrier as Bert had moved to Lindertis, near Kirriemuir, where his father, John Rugg, was farm manager for Sir Torquil Munro.

Moving to Westdrums, near Brechin, in 1950, Bert’s claim to fame came in 1953 whereby he won championships at the Royal Highland, in Alloa; the Royal Show, at Blackpool; and the Great Yorkshire, at Harrogate, with a pure white Shorthorn, Erimus Ghost.

From there, Bert, Peg and daughter Marilyn moved to the Thorn, near Alyth and for nine years had a busy time breeding and showing Aberdeen-Angus, Shorthorn and cross cattle. Bert always said a good dandy brush and plenty of elbow grease were the keys to turning out great show animals.

Every show beast passing through his hands had to look its best before it entered the ring and Bert encouraged young stockmen to reach their potential and strive for greater things in the world of showing livestock. Reserve supreme at Smithfield in 1959 and then in 1961, gaining the supreme championship with the first all white beast, Snowflake, a three-quarter Shorthorn/Angus cross, and in 1962 (with brother, Geordie) showing the reserve supreme that year.

As an active member of the Aberdeen-Angus Herdsman’s Club at that time, which was fierce with fellow competitors, there was a great sense of camaraderie between Bert, his brother and friends.

In the 70’s Bert then moved to Wester Lownie, near Forfar, to manage the farm and Aberdeen-Angus and commercial herd. Bringing out the first continental champion at Smithfield was the first sign that the imported French cattle could have a future in UK beef production.

Retiring to Lownie Hill Cottage, Bert gave guidance to the Auchterforfar Angus herd and latterly the Dunlouise native Angus herd. He was asked to take part in the celebration parade for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, and took his place in the procession around London dressed in his white coat looking after a bull which belonged to Penny and Chris Harvey, from Devon. Later, in 2017, he attended the World Forum, at Idvies Farm and was viewed as an 'Angus' legend by the international visitors.

A second career for Bert was as an instructor with the Agricultural Training Board. He travelled around the country running and demonstrating skills such as cattle dressing, foot trimming, halter making and lassoing. In 1987, he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the agricultural industry.

Throughout his lifetime, as well as being a keen showman in the cattle rings, Bert also enjoyed breeding and showing Vendeen sheep, poultry, Highland ponies, and Pekingese dogs. He was also a keen gardener and enjoyed crook making.

Bert is survived by his wife Peg, daughter Marilyn, grand children Lorraine, Veronica, Lesa and Donald, seven great grandchildren.

This was penned about Bert's success with Snowflake ...

Come all you gallant stockmen and listen to my tale,

Its all about a little calf which came to Grantown sale,

The breeder was John Rodger, who had him in good form,

The buyer was the noted judge, Alan Grant, The Thorn.

This calf he was a beauty, his coat was white as snow,

The Thorn he called him Snowflake, for everyone to know,

He sure was in the champion race for honours and for gain,

And never once did he look back when on the road to fame.

At summer shows when he was shown he always beat the lot

And as the winter did approach, the whiter grew his coat,

But greater things had yet to come and many little stiles to cross

For Smithfield was his goal, where he must surely win the toss.

The great event was drawing near but Snowflake did not mind,

To meet his match he knew it would be very hard to find;

So on a cold December morn, in fog and frost and snow

Snowflake set out, dressed in his best, to win the National show.

And then for London he set forth like Whittington of old,

Where in Earls Court he settled down away from all the cold.

But when the English saw him, they said we’d better turn,

To face a steer of girth like this, would be like Bannockburn.

Snowflake looked his very best when he walked into the ring,

And all the Scotsmen there took off their hats to sing:

When he emerged triumphant, he gave his tail a wave,

And led his good supporters in 'Scotland the Brave'.

We can’t forget the herdsman, who shared in this great feat:

With care and pride, he brushed and groomed his champion, week by week;

For Albert Rugg, a Speyside loon, at Advie Mains was born

And now he tops the honours list as herdsman at The Thorn.

So here I’ll close my liitle rhyme of praise where honour’s due,

To these three men, for what they’ve done, we say a big 'Thank you'

Rise up then now from off your seats and give yourselves a hug,

And clap your hands to welcome Messrs Rodger, Grant and Rugg.

By George Gordon, Acchnahannet, Grantown-on-Spey, 1962.