In Kilwinning, on Burns Day, 1946, another ‘Januar’ wind blew hansel in on Ross McCallum, a former reporter for The Scottish Farmer.

Brought up in Largs, in North Ayrshire and educated at Largs Higher Grade school, set in to the surrounding rolling, upland farm hills, it is little wonder that the young Ross took to agriculture because his lifelong pals John and Robbie Menzie’s family farmed at Flatt and later Holehouse farms, both just a stone’s throw from his parent’s home.

Upon leaving school, Ross attended Kilmarnock Technical College on day release studying general agriculture and animal husbandry and on his non educational days worked firstly as an ‘orra’ man at New Cumnock, then later at North Southanan Farm, in Fairlie.

The manual labour aspects of farming were possibly a bit daunting for this young gallant and he soon moved in to agricultural sales with general agricultural merchants. Hirst, Cooper, Gunther and Taber. over in the Falkirk area and then to Rank Hovis and McDougall selling agricultural feedstuff.

It was at this time that Ross decided to have a bash at journalism and he left RHM to join The Scottish Farmer Magazine as a news reporter and feature writer. He had two spells as a journalist, split by going to work for McGregors, of Leith, and then to Brewers Grain Marketing, specialising again in sales of brewery and distillery co-products. At The SF, he was remembered for being studious, but with a dry sense of humour – a trait which never left him.

Latterly, Ross moved in to pharmaceutical sales with Pfizer Animal Health Products, where he at last found a niche that suited him. He stayed in this business for more time than he spent at any of his other employment, through to his eventual retirement.

One of his great loves and skills was the ability to be an able reciter of Burns' poetry and he would often demonstrate his prowess with word perfect renditions of Tam o’Shanter and Doctor Hornbrook at informal and formal gatherings.

He was also a tireless and long serving assistant to the continuing success of the Largs and District Agricultural Society, providing many prizes for the annual Largs Show from his sales ‘freebie hampers’ to anointing thirsty throats in the president’s hospitality tent.

Away from farming, his leisure pursuits and hobbies were many and varied, not unlike his early career! He could also render a good song when persuaded and he dabbled in other musical pursuits, taking up a number of instruments – having most success with the mouth organ.

However, his favourite pursuit was going out for a solitary ‘blithe stravaig’ in the local hills with his favourite cromach clasped in his mit.

Coincidentally, he was a founding member of the Largs Stravaigers which, in their younger years, managed to organise a number of the local populace to bag all the Munros. A highlight, though, was the annual trek up to the top of Knock Hill, in Largs, on Boxing Day.

Ross had an amiable quick quipping mind and disposition and was respected in all walks of life.

He is survived by Brownie and his daughters, Claire and Brenda, and the wider family.

The Stravaigers