John Smith

THE recent passing of John Smith, of Drumalea, Campbeltown – affectionately known to all who knew him as 'Father John' – has resulted in a profound loss to the local community of a truly good man.

Born in October, 1925, the son of Donald and Catherine (Millar) Smith, he attended Kilchenzie Primary School when sports' days with neighbouring schools enabled lifelong friendships to be formed, albeit with a few bruised ankles as souvenirs.

His secondary education included time at Keil School, which was based in Balinakill House, Clachan, in that period.

John was almost unique in farming in that he had the ability to not only be at the forefront of the latest agricultural advances, but had an inbuilt energy and vibrancy that flowed over into the community he loved.

Thrust into farming on his own, he quickly raised the bar when, in the 1950s, he doubled his milking herd from the then accepted practice of approximately 30 cows to more than 75 cows. That was something that was unheard of at the time and attracted national coverage.

Becoming a founder member of Largieside YFC, which he went on to lead, set the tone for all the other organisations he was involved with in the Kintyre area. These included the Kintyre Agricultural Society, the Friesian breeders club, farmers’ co-op, and the local branch of NFUS.

Further afield, there were spells on the arbiters and valuers’ panel along with SMMB selection committee duties.

Even his non-farming endeavours received the full Father John treatment, as he became president of Campbeltown Rotary Club and took his turn being in charge of the Bridge Club.

Following the closure of Lochend Church, he was at the forefront of ensuring the proceeds of the closure resulted in a lasting legacy in the form of a Medical Trust Fund.

John Knox wrote 'a man with God is always in the majority' and it was perhaps as an ordained Church of Scotland elder that John’s true vocation lay. But, he was no angel, especially in his time in the Home Guard with bayonets fixed, or of his annoying habit of gently whistling whilst playing bridge!

No matter the ventures he undertook – and there were many to – there was only total commitment.

It was perhaps fitting that on the day we laid him to rest, others were seeking election to high office. I like to think John now has a seat at the table of a much higher authority.

The farming community in Kintyre has lost one of our pillars, and on a personal note, I will miss him greatly.

Rory Colville