A RECORD-BREAKING turnout of 430 people saw the annual event held in memory of agricultural journalist Joe Watson raise more than £16,000 for charity.

This was the sixth annual charity event held in memory of the former Press and Journal agricultural editor. The venue this year was Berryleys Farm, Grange, Keith, hosted by Banffshire branch members Stewart and Hazel Stronach, their son Stewart and his partner Fiona.

A packed evening featuring stockjudging, a BBQ, a guess the weight competition, auctions and raffles raised thousands of pounds to be split between this year’s chosen charities, RSABI and Macmillan Cancer Care.

Winner of the special trophy in Joe’s name for the overall winner of the stockjudging competition was Gary Christie, Midtown of Glass, near Huntly, with members of the Watson family on hand for the presentations.

Bidding in the auction peaked at £750 for a livestock surveillance camera from Farmers Eye and £700 for an Angela Davidson painting from Douglasbrae Ltd. A pedigree Texel gimmer from the Stronach family’s worker, Calum Gill, raised £600. Calum wanted to contribute personally as his wife is undergoing cancer treatment.

With such a huge turnout, special thanks went to Norvite, who sponsored the refreshments, while supplies of steaks from ABP, cooked by Bob and Kathleen Hay, saw queues that ran the length of the shed.

North East NFUS regional chairman, Davie Winton said: “We are indebted to the Stronach family for hosting. The work they put in to presenting their first-class stock in fantastic surroundings ensured a record-breaking annual event in memory of Joe.

“It was a tremendous night; the generosity of sponsors was amazing and the people buying in the auction have raised an incredible amount of money for our named charities.

“Delivering steaks and refreshments to more than 430 people was a fantastic achievement and a credit to all involved," added Mr Winton. "The level of support and sponsorship this event generates every year shows how highly Joe was regarded. And it is always a pleasure to meet up with Joe’s mother, Mirren and Joe’s brothers Murdo and Fraser and their respective partners and families.

“They were also able to show off their stockjudging skills, with Joe’s brother Fraser coming second in the open competition. Not bad for a sparkie!”