‘Promise me you will always remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think’ – Winnie the Pooh.

One hundred years ago, the guns fell silent at the end of the war to end all wars.

My mother’s father was on his way up to the front, his platoon had stopped for a brew in a bombed outhouse when someone broke the news that the war was over. They had lost so many pals and were so numbed by fatigue, that they didn’t give a damn.

Leaving their elders to run the farms, twice in a quarter of a century every member of our family on both sides who were of age joined up, even the lassies. My auntie Jean joined the women’s army and my mother served in the WAAF with 617 squadron, The Dam Busters. Both lost husbands in the RAF.

Two great uncles were wounded in the trenches, one seriously, and my father lost a leg in the Second World War. His cousin made the supreme sacrifice. Three won the Military Cross although they never made much of it ... heroes don’t. Indeed, I never knew how my father got his until after his death in 1997.

As small boys we always attended The Remembrance Commemoration, in Duns. The Square was packed as we watched our heroes march to the War Memorial in the Town Park.

I say march. Some were in the hideous government issue bath chairs. Others, like my Dad, hobbled with two sticks. Others again had only one stick but it was painted white. For widows and mothers, remembrance rekindled memories of the day the dreaded telegram arrived.

Later, as a boy, my heroes were cowboys, Indians or the titans who battled with our country’s enemies in the Commodore war comics. Then they became sportsmen.

My uncle Tom and my father’s cousin, Douglas, played rugby for Scotland. We could play football too – Celtic won The European Cup and Rangers the European Cup Winners Cup.

At a time when there were eight weight divisions and only one champion in each, Scottish boxers, Walter MacGowan, Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt, won world championships. Cassius Clay, later Muhammed Ali, with unmarked face, magnificent physique and sparkling wit, floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee through the 1960s and 1970s. He said he was 'The Greatest' ... and he was. We haven’t seen a sporting hero like him since.

As I learned to be a farmer, my heroes became the stars of the sheep and cattle world. Ben Wilson, whose Blackies made stratospheric prices and his brother, Jim, who could have won the International Dog Trial with Greyfriars Bobby. Bob Adam’s bulls lured cattle breeders from stations, estancias and ranches from round the world to Perth Bull Sales. Britain was the stud farm of the universe then.

Soon after, I noticed things were changing. An old friend, John Crouch, later a pioneer of performance recording and after that CEO of the US Angus Association, recently recalled attending a seminar as a young man which was being held by the South African Professor Jan Bonsma.

Bonsma, who had fair claim to being the most famous authority on beef cattle in the world at that time, held a series of seminars throughout North America, where he stunned hard bitten ranchers with his almost magical understanding of the physiology of a beast.

At this demonstration 10 beef cows, which Bonsma had never seen before, were lined up. “The first cow,” Bonsma said, “is seven years old. She has had five calves. She has always conceived in the first cycle and her calves are always among the tops.

"The second cow is the same age. She is slow to take the bull and lost her second calf. Her calves are usually in the bottom 25%. The third cow is a poor milker ...” and so on. He went down the line.

At the finish, the owner of the cows confirmed to an amazed audience that in seven out of the 10 cows, Bonsma was exactly right. A young man, Dave Nichols, himself to become an internationally recognised cattle breeder, got up to say how wonderful it was that the professor had got seven out of the 10 correct but that there was someone in the company who had got 10 out of 10. He pointed to a man holding a clipboard 'because he has the figures'.

Bonsma could hardly argue. He founded the Bonsmara, which in his own lifetime became the most popular beef breed in South Africa. A major part of its evolution involved meticulous recording.

Undoubtedly the breeder, like Bonsma, who has a keen sense of observation, the ability to retain in his mind's eye the characteristics of individual animals and seldom deviates, despite changing fashion, from his long term objective will always have an advantage. Despite that, the era of the master breeder had started to wane and heroes had become harder to find.

Ah! I still have one hero left.

Just above where I sit in Gordon Church there is a brass plate on the wall. It was put there by parents distraught at the loss of their only son, killed in action.

But first, an aside! In the rankings of awards for courage in the face of the enemy, the Victoria Cross (VC) comes top. It has a crimson ribbon, is made of base metal and is inscribed simply “For valour”. The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) comes next and after that, for a soldier, the Military Cross (MC). The other services have their own decorations.

Of the millions who have fought for Britain and her allies since its inception in 1857, only 1355 servicemen have won the VC. Three, two in the First World War and one in the Second World War, have won the VC and bar (twice).

Farmers son from just down the road, George Stuart Henderson VC, DSO and bar, MC, probably came next.