John Gordon Hamilton

John (Joffy) Hamilton was 57 when he passed away doing what he loved – helping his boys out by doing wee jobs on the farm to keep things running smoothly.

He was born on June 25, 1961, at Woolfords in Lanarkshire, son of the late Matthew and Jean Hamilton, younger brother to Christine, Mary and Matthew.

It was in his formative years that his mischievous character began to emerge and develop. He went to stay with his cousins in Aberdeenshire and you can only imagine his aunt’s reaction when, aged 9, he scratched another '1' on the fishmongers slate and 111 kippers turned up the following week!

His father, Matthew Hamilton, died when John was only 13. However, with great determination and enthusiasm, he joined the family partnership at Woolfords on finishing school at Merchiston and agricultural college at Edinburgh. That determination and ambition remained with him for the rest of his life as he created a large-scale, successful farming business.

In 1988, with Vanessa by his side, he started to farm in his own right at Cobbinshaw and Dykefoot. It was at Cobbinshaw that four sons, James, Charles, Harry and Hamish came into the world. Joffy’s untimely death is not the first time his family has been touched by tragedy.

It gives the family great strength and comfort at this sad time to know that he is now guiding and taking care of their beloved Hamish who died 22 years ago.

In 1998, he achieved a lifetime goal when he bought a farm in the east with the purchase of Aikengall, followed by Thurston Mains, some 10 years later.

Farming was his life blood since he was born and he had always nurtured a great passion and dedication to farm and breed stock to the best of his ability. Throughout his life he never shied away from investing in the best of livestock and working as hard as he could to improve the infrastructure and health of his farms. It gave him great pride to receive many accolades, awards and recognition for the quality of his stock and his ability to farm.

He would often advise the boys 'never let your farm know you are poor'. However, one of his great guiding mottos was 'live as if you will die tomorrow, and farm and breed stock as if you will live forever'. We can safely say he certainly did that!

It was widely known that if he set his eye on a potential replacement ram or bull in the market place, he was hard to stop and was always prepared to pay for the quality he was looking for. How he enjoyed those days out, whether it was Kelso tup sales, Lanark Blackface sheep sales or Stirling bull sales.

An excellent stocksman and farmer, in business he was both entrepreneurial and resourceful, a perfectionist with an ambition to grow his business and a fierce determination to succeed. He built up a large and successful empire, always planning ahead for the succession of the boys.

He encouraged and installed a strict work ethic in James, Charles and Harry, whom he has nurtured to become successful farmers in their own right. He handed over the management of the cattle and sheep enterprises to them some years ago. He knew the business was in good and capable hands and was very proud of them.

Joffy was always thinking and planning how to maximise the return from his land and how to take his business to the next level. To that end, his great friend and mentor, Willie Mitchell and he travelled to Wales in 1993 to see the very first wind turbines that had been installed in the UK. From that moment on, he was convinced that windfarms would play a huge part in the rural economy of Scotland and a huge part in his future business.

After a lot of planning, hard work and persistence, he was successful in getting his first windfarm generating renewable electricity installed at Aikengall in 2008, with further expansion since. Much to his credit, this dream became realised.

Many people who knew him knew him simply as Joffy, and much to his annoyance, so did his boys! "Only my friends can call me that," he used to say to them. As James pointed out at Joffy’s funeral: “It is a great honour and privilege for all three of us to say that he was not just our father – he was our friend too.”

He was a sociable man, who loved people, company and any excuse for a day out, party or trip away was readily seized upon. Watching rugby and shooting were his two main hobbies that afforded him these opportunities.

He had recently enjoyed a trip to the south of France with a group of good friends to watch the Edinburgh play Toulon game – managing to fit in quite a few vineyard tours as well! Shooting would take him the length and breadth of the UK and as far afield as Argentina.

He made numerous good friends whilst doing it and he would always say he learnt something new every time he was out. Joffy loved nothing more than getting a new joke or funny story and regaling it with much animation and hilarity at a dinner table or any other occasion, and he loved hosting a party.

Joffy was a real people person, giving them the feeling of being the better for being in his company. He had a unique ability to talk to almost anyone about almost anything and thoroughly enjoyed giving his time, energy and ideas to many positions he had held on boards and committees, most recently as president of the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association and as a director and chief sheep steward of the Royal Highland Show.

He had huge energy, pride, determination and drive to succeed at absolutely everything he did in life. He was very loyal, generous and fair, and would often remark how much Vanessa meant to him and how he couldn’t have achieved half the success without her love, strength and guidance by his side. Heartfelt sympathies are with Vanessa, his three sons, James, Charles and Harry, their partners Emma, Jane and Rebecca and his two grandchildren, Will and Katie, whom he adored.

As James put it so well at Joffy’s funeral: “It has been a huge honour, a privilege and a joy to grow up with his guidance and his nurturing love and care for us. But an even bigger privilege simply to be able to call him dad.”

His passing has left a huge hole in the hearts and lives of everyone who knew him. But his lengthy list of friends, accolades and achievements have left a great legacy for his sons to continue.

Gone and sorely missed, but not forgotten. And as Joffy often said: "Thanks for the memories; thanks for the laughter; thanks for the friendship; and thanks for the fun!"