Lorna Foubister

It would not be an understatement to write that Lorna Foubister lived her 54 years of life to the full!

A life which began in September, 1965, when she was born to Tommy and Marjorie Bryce, Chalmerston, by Stirling, now home to Lorna’s younger brother Robert and his family.

Lorna’s formal education was completed with three years at Dollar Academy. However, her swearing expertise was credited to the Chalmerston Farm staff!

Her informal early 'life' education, fuelled by her insatiable need to keep busy, included Brownies, volunteering with the Red Cross and membership of Stirling Young Farmers Club. Her 17th birthday triggered driving licence determination.

After spending time in Australia, Greece and Spain, agriculture became her chosen path. In 1995, Lorna joined Scotbeef – the Galloway family-owned meat processors, based at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling. There she developed an abiding passion for the British beef and lamb industry.

For the next 25 years, Lorna became known to Scotbeef farmer suppliers throughout Britain, as she organised, helped, co-ordinated, discussed, explained, and problem solved, to ensure Scotbeef’s customers’ on-farm requirements were clearly known, checked and recorded.

Her passion for the meat industry, her understanding of retailer requirements along with farming realities, plus her ability to effectively communicate information in both directions, made her an ideal person to help in the establishment of the Marks and Spencer 'Assured Farmers Scheme,' the principles of which have been extended over much of M and S’s food range. Numerous other retailers have since introduced similar schemes.

Sometimes tenaciously, Lorna argued the practicability of regulatory requirements, individually specified by Scotbeef’s customers, to ensure they were feasible and workable on farms. Never keen to take 'No' for an answer, when the going got tough, she would 'pull on my Big Girl pants, get my lippy on and get on with it!'

A round of Marks and Spencer farms audit expedition to Orkney and a flipped coin sealed Lorna’s destiny. Farms on the islands of Shapinsay and Westray were to be visited. Lorna and Suzie England (nee Galloway), tossed to decide who went where.

As Lorna dis-embarked from the Shapinsay ferry, she was met by Scotbeef supplier, Marcus Foubister, of Hannatoft. By the time Lorna had returned to Kirkwall, she had been impressed by more than the Foubister cattle.

Romance blossomed. Aberdeenshire farm visits arranged for Fridays, allowed Lorna to discreetly weekend in Orkney. When she arrived after the last ferry to Shapinsay, Lorna was speed-boated, often in darkness, across the five watery miles, safely cocooned in a massive survival suit by good pal of Marcus and boat owner, Richard Zawadski.

In October, 1998, Miss Lorna Bryce, resplendent in stunning wedding dress and cowboy boots, entered Kirkwall’s St Magnus Cathedral, later emerging on Marcus’s arm as Mrs Foubister.

Modern communication technology kept Lorna in close touch with Scotbeef supplying farmers. Many were surprised to learn that the woman who was happy to keep them right from 6.00 am until midnight, was based on a tiny 11 square mile island, miles north of Scotland’s mainland.

Frequent trips south for work and family included the annual Scottish National Premier Meat Exhibition, at Scotbeef’s Bridge of Allan base, in conjunction with Marks and Spencer. Lorna, with Marcus roped in, started preparation months ahead, through to the final stages – ensuring prize winners were alerted in readiness for the following day’s prize giving.

Lorna’s life on Shapinsay involved more than caring for Marcus, his two sons, Michael and Paul, and helping on the farm and long Scotbeef office hours.

During the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001, her knowledge of animal transport requirements and legislation helped ensure that the Orkneys' stock continued to travel to the mainland. This same knowledge came back into play a few years later, when the high welfare livestock trailers – which currently transport stock from Orkney and Shetland – were being designed.

Lorna and Shapinsay 'clicked' and she was determined to do whatever it took to keep the island well resourced, and gave her time and effort to numerous community support ventures, including for more than 20 years, driving Shapinsay’s main ambulance. The ambulance had a blue light but, frustratingly, Lorna was forbidden to use it.

Lorna made her final journey from Kirkwall back to Shapinsay on September 3. From the ferry, her hearse travelled through a guard of honour which included her ambulance – with the blue light flashing! She rests in Shapinsay graveyard, in sight of Hannatoft, with ashes of her parents beside her.

* Due to Covid-19 complications, numbers at funerals were heavily restricted and so many of Lorna’s friends wanted to 'do something'. An on line Just Giving page has been created, with donations for Cancer Research UK. To date, more than £3000 has been donated in Lorna’s memory. It can be found at: justgiving.com/fundraising/marcus-foubister