It was the end of an era both for the Border Union Agricultural Society (BUAS ) and fencing contractors, William Douglas and Sons, Lilliesleaf, on Christmas Eve 2019 when (William) Graham Douglas died .

The family business was started at the end of WW1 by William Douglas, whose three sons, Willie, Dan and Jimmy, all joined the family business after school. Through time, Willie and Jimmy both retired early from the firm through ill-health and when Dan retired in 1978, the business was taken over by Willie’s son, William (Bill) and long time colleague, Bill Reid, who died in 1980. Graham became the fourth generation to work in the business after leaving school and in 2002 took over the business when his father, Bill, retired.

The family took over the building of the annual Border Union Show and Kelso Ram Sales in 1944 and the championship dog show since the first show in 1975, completing 75 years for the former and 45 years for the latter in 2019.

Graham was clever at school with a good practical brain and I heard from his life long friend, Andy Shortreed, that Graham was an expert at, among other things, technical drawing and could make all manner of things out of wood and other materials.

He was encouraged to study and utilise these skills while at High School, in Hawick. However, Graham was stubborn – all he wanted to do was leave school and join his father and be a fencer, which he duly did in 1975. Countless farms and estates throughout the Borders benefited from Graham’s skill, as well as the three core events at BUAS.

His younger brother, Neil, was in partnership with Graham for a number of years before returning to utilising his skills with heavy plant machinery.

I cannot have more regard and respect for Bill and Graham and how they nurtured me when I joined BUAS as secretary in 1998. I listened and I learnt from them all the ins and outs of both the showground and preparing these massive annual events, and bringing them together in such a professional manner and with an uncanny calmness that sometimes was frustrating but the job always achieved in time.

The ram sales have evolved over the last 25 years, with many changes and updates, and it was a pleasure working with someone who was conscious of the huge responsibility he had to the many thousands of people whose livelihoods were often dependent on a good sale day, or a fine show.

Graham’s other passion in life was racing pigeons, which he bred and raced for more than 40 years – and for the last 15 with his friend and near neighbour in Lilliesleaf, Bob Spearman. They had many years of great fun and numerous successes with their birds and it was always a great pleasure and exciting for those at the showground when, in the spring, Graham would very often bring a crate of young birds when he came to work and released them as part of their early training.

He had a great eye and would spend many long evenings just watching them to learn which would be potential race winners and which to keep as breeding stock.

They had a fair share of success in UK races, but their biggest success was when a favourite, Bonnie Lad, finished sixth out 2500 birds released in the south of France. The one thing I learnt from them is that unless they have to, a pigeon will not fly over a hill but rather go around it! Bob Spearman is carrying on with the 'Lilliesleaf Legends' pigeon flock.

Graham’s greatest assets were that he was honest, thorough and reliable, with great attention to detail in anything and all in which he was involved.

He is survived by his wife, Anne, two daughters, mother, his two brothers and his two sisters.

An appreciation by Ronald Wilson