Retired Shire farmer dies at 94

Sylvester Campbell was the oldest surviving former NFU president
Sylvester Campbell was the oldest surviving former NFU president

A retired Aberdeenshire farmer, the oldest surviving former president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland (now NFU Scotland), has died aged 94.

Sylvester (Sylvie or Vester) Campbell, was the seventh Sylvester in succession in the Campbell family (the first Sylvester hailed from farming stock in Durris in the 18th century).

He followed his father at Cairntradlin Farm, Kinellar, in the 1950s, quickly moving on from the beef shorthorn breed, for which the farm was renowned, to specialise in commercial beef cattle, pigs, arable and, for a time, strawberries.

Mr Campbell was active in the young farmers’ movement as a member of the Inverurie club and the club team which won the national speech-making competition in 1947 and performed well in stock-judging.

He “graduated” from young farmers in 1950 at 25 to join the union where he soon made his mark as Inverurie branch chairman, Aberdeen and Kincardine area president, and served on the national council as vice-convener of the cereals committee and convener of the livestock committee for five years from 1969 to 1974, before being elected national president in 1974.

It was no surprise that his dedicated work on behalf of his fellow farmers led to an OBE in 1986.

When he stepped down from the union, Mr Campbell became chairman of the Meat Promotion Executive, chairman for four years of the
Aberdeen Endowments Trust, owners of 40 tenanted farms covering 10,000 acres in the North-east, and in 1986
was elected a director of Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM).

He served for 10 years at a time of significant change when many marts were closed, Thainstone Centre was built and a new mart established in Caithness.

Mr Campbell also served as a director and vice-chairman of the strawberry marketing co-op, Harlaw Fruit, director of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society, president of Echt Show and a member of the Scottish board of NFU Mutual.

Most of his cattle, sheep and pigs were marketed over the years through co-ops, including FMC, Buchan Meat Producers, Grampian (now Scottish) Pig Producers and ANM subsidiary, AMMCO (later Scotch Premier Meat).

Mr Campbell’s first wife, Marion, died in 1989, and he is survived by his second wife, Eileen, daughters Pat and Hilda, son Sylvie, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.