Shepherding legend Sandy McKirdy has been named as the recipient of this year’s Stalwart Award by the Argyll and the Islands region of NFU Scotland (NFUS).
The award was created in 2016 in recognition and memory of the dedication shown by Mull’s Bert Leitch and Lachlan MacLean who passed away in 2015.
It is presented annually to either an NFUS member who has followed in their footsteps and given their time and effort to the work of the union in the region, or someone who has made a significant contribution to agriculture in the area.
Mr McKirdy, 94, started farming with his father at Dunagoil Farm on Bute, before working as a shepherd in Argyllshire.
He returned home and spent 40 years shepherding for Bute Estates and the Marquess of Bute.
He retired at 65, but continues to check on ewes and hogs every day while training and trialling his sheepdogs for the local trial, where he continues to win prizes.
NFUS regional chairman, John Dickson, said Mr McKirdy was presented with the award in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to hill sheep farming”.
He said: “The true measure of someone considered a stalwart is the respect and admiration given from young and old.
“The fact that Sandy’s advice and experience continues to be sought after and valued just underlines the esteem in which he is held by his fellow farmers.”
Hill farmer and former award recipient Sybil MacPherson described Mr McKirdy as “one of nature’s true gentlemen”.
She said: “Very few people, if any, will have spent 80 years tending sheep.
“Fewer still will have his level of knowledge and dedication, and none with the ability to ken sheep like Sandy.”
He was given the award at the annual meeting of the NFUS Argyll and the Islands region where the chairman and vice-chairmen Peter Kennedy and Duncan Macalister were re-elected.