DURRIS KIRK was packed to overflowing with more than 400 mourners at the funeral of popular Deeside farmer, Ian Blackhall, of Milton of Durris, Banchory.

Mr Blackhall died on July 6 at the age of 89. The eldest of five sons, he started his schooling at Migvie School, Tarland. With the family moving to Little Tulloch, Durris, in 1940, he attended Woodlands School before going to Banchory Academy.

On the outbreak of World War II, he had to leave school at the age of 14 to work a pair of Clydesdale horses on the family farm, thus ending his ambition of studying to become a vet.

After the war ended, Ian took part in many Durris activities, including serving as secretary and then chairman of Durris young farmers’ club. He was also a keen member of the Durris Dramatic Society and later, along with his good friend and neighbour, Gordon Leslie, started the Durris harvest home ball which continued for 30 years.

He also served on the Kirkton Hall committee for 45 years and was an elder and property convener of Durris Church for 20 years. He was an active member of the Deeside Agricultural Association, organisers of the annual Banchory Show, for many years.

Ian commenced farming at Milton of Durris in his own right along with his late wife, Mary, in 1952, starting with a calf, a pig and some laying hens. With a lot of hard work, the business grew to include a flock of Cheviot ewes, a large number of laying hens and finishing cattle and a herd of breeding sows. Later enterprises included Christmas poultry and seed potato production.

Over the years, hundreds of local children were involved in “tattie picking” on the farm and many are still in touch with the family, recalling great memories of those days. Additional land was taken on where possible and the business grew as his sons joined him in partnership.

Ian was a hard-working man but always found time to help out any of his neighbours if required and always had a keen interest in everyone around him.

His wife of 62 years died in September, 2014, and he is survived by daughters, Moreen and Kathleen, sons Alex and Rodney, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.