WELL KNOWN hill sheep farmer, Douglas Willison of Acharn Farm, Killin,and Craigend Farm, Fintry, sadly but peacefully passed away at the Falls of Dochart Retirement, Killin, March 22 in his 91st year.

Doug was brought up at Acharn Farm, Killin, where he was born into a fourth generation farming family there. He went on to farm at Acharn for many years with his brother, Johnnie, and they were keen supporters of all things agricultural in the district and beyond, enjoying days out at the Stirling, Dalmally and Killin sheep sales, local shows, clipping competitions and ploughing matches – in fact anything that involved sheep! Doug was a very social gentleman and loved to get the craic with neighbours and friends over a few drams.

As a young shepherd, he had great pals all over the district most of whom were active members of the Killin and District Young Farmers Clubs. Here with his brother, Johnnie, and great friend Gilbert Christie, Auchlyne, they won many prizes in speech making and stock judging – and probably socialising too! A thread that carried on through his whole life!

One of his first jobs as a shepherd at Acharn, aged 14, was to accompany the experienced shepherds in droving the ewe hoggs from Glen Lochay up to the A9 at Dalnaspidal, where they boarded the train for Grantown on Spey for the winter. It took a week of constant walking over remote and rough terrain and they stayed in barns where they could find them. Some of the shepherds went with the sheep on the train for the winter, but he had to return to the farm. He always thought he was the last of the Scottish sheep drovers!

Doug was a very hard worker all his life and improved the sheep stock at Acharn so they were in high demand, crossing the Blackface ewes with Swaledales to produce a hardy, milky ewe with excellent mothering abilities. Although he spent most of his working life at Acharn, when the landowner planted the hill in 1981, he moved to Craigend Farm, Fintry where he and son Doug worked hard at improving the farm and the sheep stock. Again it wasn’t long before they were once more topping the lamb sales with high quality, commercial Blackies.

When he 'retired' back to Killin he took on the rent of Corrycharmaig Farm in Glen Lochay with a stock of 600 hill sheep. Due to his lifelong love of sheep and ongoing work ethic, even when he retired from this farm, he set up as a contract shepherd and was a common sight in the district with the wee white van and his collie dog, Ted, helping with gatherings, fank work and clippings. He loved this as it gave him many a great social occasion. He travelled the length of Glen Dochart, Glen Lochay and Lochtayside until finally retiring when he was 84. He must have amassed an incredible number of miles on the hills shepherding – he was an old-fashioned shepherd – tackety boots, a crook and collie dogs. He loved hand shearing and preferred this all of his life and wasn’t terribly keen on machinery – preferring to walk!

A true family man, Doug married Anne Anderson in 1956, and they were married for 59 years, with Anne predeceasing him in 2013. They had three children, Doug, Beth and Sheona, six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. As well as his sheep and family he made time for his other hobbies, most notably curling, and he was a keen curler all his life, particularly enjoying outdoor curling on the Acharn curling pond, where he is well remembered for throwing whisky bottles instead of curling stones up the ice as the evening wore on! He loved the competition and social that went with curling, skipping many of the Killin rinks to great success in the Breadalbane League. He received the Royal Caledonian Curling Club long service medal of 50 years, only stopping curling in his mid-80’s.

He was a happy and contented man, always with a twinkle in his eye, who infected others with his sense of fun and enjoyment of life. Unfortunately, Doug’s funeral had to be a quiet affair but the family would like to thank everyone who supported them with flowers, cards and donations which were collected for the Falls of Dochart Retirement Home.