ONE OF the giants of the Scottish livestock trade died earlier this summer – Norman Forsyth, of Oswie Villa, Whithorn, passed away after a short illness.

He was in his 80th year and was born in 1938, the third son to Robert and Annie Forsyth, Chapelheron, Whithorn. The family all had a great work ethic instilled in them and this was something with which Norman continued all his days.

From humble beginnings of selling tatties and turnips from Chapelheron around the doors of Whithorn, he went on to become one of significant names in the Scottish farming world and beyond for more than half a century.

While still a young boy, he went round the local farms trading in pigs and calves before moving onto handling cast cows and dairy heifers. In the 1950s and '60s calving heifers were a large part of his business and he produced and showed big numbers for sale at Castle Douglas, Annan and further afield.

Strong contacts made in the trade at this time enabled him to supply calved heifers the length and breadth of the country, and if there was a herd for sale anywhere he would soon get wind of it.

Dealing in store cattle then became a large part of his business, finding a good sales outlet at Hexham Mart. He began selling there in 1965 and was in regular attendance, virtually every Friday thereafter, producing in excess of 160,000 head over that period. Ayr Mart on a Tuesday was also one of his regular haunts and hardly a day passed when he wasn’t out on the road and he probably called on almost every farm in the South-west at some point in his working life.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001 curtailed his activities for a time, but once movements resumed, he was busier than ever. Around this time his own farming business at home greatly expanded with his son, Kevan, playing a substantial part.

A state of the art dairy set up was installed at Broadwigg, followed a few years later by the showpiece young stock unit at New Bishopton. The firm of N Forsyth and Son also runs three other dairies alongside fattening units, as well as three substantial poultry enterprises with around 60 employees in total.

Everyone who came across Norman had a story to tell of their meeting and most have seen his blue lorry somewhere around the country – the engine of which was never cold in the busy times of year.

From his early teens, his life was spent out on the road and it was one in which he thrived on right up until his final days. Norman had an eye for a beast and a skill which few in the cattle trade possessed and which only those in the livestock business could truly appreciate.

At his funeral service in Whithorn Church, in June, a large crowd from all parts of the country gathered to pay their respects to a man the like of whom we shall probably never see again.

Norman is survived by his devoted wife, Dorothy, his son Kevan and daughters, Mandy and Jill, and their families.