THE DEATH of David Fellowes at the age of 84 has deprived the county of Argyll of one of its outstanding countrymen.

Although agriculture was by no means the only aspect of his life, David Fellowes was without question a true countryman. He had a love for and a true understanding and respect of the land, hills and lochs that surrounded him near Dalmally, never asking to much from them whilst at the same time being grateful for their gifts.

His loss will be most keenly felt within the Highland cattle breed. David took over the management of Cladich Estate, along with its long-established fold of Highland cattle on leaving Auchincruive Agricultural College in 1953.

His meticulous attention to detail and keen eye soon brought the fold its first major award, lifting the male championship at the Oban Highland sale in 1961 with John of Cladich. This was followed in 1977, when the yearling bull, Alastair Ruadh of Cladich, lifted the junior championship award and was bought by the well-known American breeder, Dan Flynn, from Massachusetts.

Alastair Ruadh went on to have major influence on the Highland breed in the United States where even today many of their best cattle can trace their pedigree to that great Cladich bull.

Females from the fold were to shine at the Oban October sale in 1982, when the three-year-old heifer, Malda Ruadh of Cladich, lifted the supreme award.

David enjoyed great success selling heifer calves at the October sales in Oban, winning the cup for the best pair of calves on several occasions, many of his prize winners being bought to establish the Highland breed in Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands. Members of his highly regarded Molly family proved to be particularly popular selling up to 2000gns in October, 1990.

The sale ring was not the only stage where David put the Cladich fold to test. His beloved Dalmally show - with which he had an association amounting to 63 years and serving not only as president but also as secretary and treasurer on several occasions - saw not only the Highland championship but also the top Blackface sheep trophies going to adorn the sideboard at Inistrynich.

John of Cladich lifted the championship award on no fewer than three occasions, culminating with the overall show championship in 1967. This was to be followed in 1972 when the three-year-old heifer Ban Righ 22 of Cladich secured the overall award.

This was by far one of his proudest moments in the show ring. Further championship trophies were to come when the stock bull, Ben Screel of Scone Palace, was shown in 1976.

David also did much to further promote the Blackface breed in Argyllshire, developing an outstanding prize-winning flock and helping to establish the renowned Dalmally tup sale, setting the record price for the centre on several occasions.

The show ring was consigned to the back seat when David began his 11 years of outstanding service to the Highland Cattle Society, taking on the presidential role from 1982-4. During his term of office he undertook the appointment of a new secretary, and instigated the first of several highly successful breed exhibits and demonstrations.

His energy did much to rejuvenate the interest in the Highland breed south of the Border, in particular at the Great Yorkshire Show, whilst at the same time he organised the Highland Cattle Society's centenary celebrations held in conjunction with the Royal Highland Show, in 1984.

In recognition of his services to the Highland breed, David was awarded the coveted Ormsary Prize in 1984 - this was presented by Sir William Lithgow to those who have promoted the unique commercial merits of the Highland breed and its crosses. Further recognition of his exemplary services to the breed followed when he was made an honorary member in 2013.

Both he and his late wife, Liz, understood how important events such as Dalmally Show were to the local community. It is through their efforts the event has become one not only one of the finest displays of livestock in the country but also a show where everyone can compete, both young and old whether it be in the craft or horticultural section, the photographic section, poultry show, shepherd's crook's competition or the increasingly popular dog show.

He ensured that not only the Cladich name, but also that the centuries old tradition of the finest of Highland cattle continue to graze the hills above Loch Awe. He took great pleasure in the fact that the new owners of the Cladich fold kept the Cladich name to the fore by winning the Highland championship at last year's Dalmally Show.

When we in Argyll think of what it means to be a true steward of the land and community, we will remember David Fellowes.