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Henry Durward: Tribute for champion Aberdeen-Angus cattleman, 80

Henry Durward.
Henry Durward.

Leading Aberdeen-Angus cattleman of the post-war 1960s heyday of the breed, Henry Durward, has died at the age of 80.

Durward, was a cattleman with the MacRobert Trust’s Douneside herd at West Davoch, Tarland, for 28 years.

He showed the Aberdeen-Angus bull, Essedium of Douneside, the supreme champion of the world-famous Perth bull sales in 1964.

It sold for 54,000gn, still the second highest price for an Aberdeen-Angus bull sold by auction in the UK.

It was exported to Black Watch Farms in New York State, USA.

Career

Henry’s family came from the Ellon area and he started his career with the Douneside Aberdeen-Angus herd as assistant cattleman.

He later moved to the Newhouse Aberdeen-Angus herd at Glamis – which was then the leading herd of Aberdeen-Angus in the country.

From there he looked after a herd in Dumfries-shire which were not Aberdeen-Angus. As the Adam family at Newhouse didn’t have a house for him when he got married.

He returned to Douneside as head cattleman in November, 1963, when his predecessor and first boss, Bill Shand, moved on, having secured the tenancy of his own farm near Insch.

Success

He went on to win the reserve supreme championship in 1966 with Jesedax Eric of Douneside. This sold for 20,000gn again to Black Watch Farms. This time a joint purchase with RM Adam and Son, Newhouse of Glamis, Forfar.

Henry Durward doing the job he loved.

He then repeated his supreme championship success in 1967 with Juanum Eric of Douneside, sold for the second top price of 5,200gn to the USA.

And also took the reserve senior championship with Jermus Eric of Douneside, sold for the top price of 12,000gn to RM Adam and Son. This was another joint purchase with two Argentinian herds.

Challenging times lay ahead

That same year Douneside boasted the five highest prices of the sale. However, it was the start of the downward trend in the fortunes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed with the loss of export markets and the move towards the larger-framed continental breeds.

These successes were achieved at a time of strong competition for Aberdeen-Angus bulls, especially for export, with more than 500 bulls selling at Perth over the two days of the sale.

Echt Show, 2012. Judge Robbie Minty with his best team at three – from left, Burghbridge Benjamin with Ian Wilkie, Braigiewell Ellen with Scott Wilkie and Cairnview Curio 16th with Henry Durward.

The Douneside herd was also prominent at the summer shows under Henry Durward’s stewardship.

Further successes included the supreme championship at the Royal Highland Show in 1967 with a home-bred heifer, Bamexma of Douneside. As well as the female championship the following year with five-year-old cow, Euthera of Douneside.

Herd dispersed

Sadly, Henry’s expertise was lost to the Aberdeen-Angus breed when the Douneside herd was dispersed in the late 1980s.

He joined the Scottish Water Board but did retain his interest in the breed throughout his lifetime, as an adviser and mentor to many.

He was highly respected and his advice greatly valued.

Despite being very quiet and unassuming, he was always willing to share his knowledge of the breed with others. Not only with young cattlemen coming in to the breed but established breeders who always appreciated his advice.

He also acted as judge at other cattle competitions such as the Echt Show.

And for a time continued to prepare Aberdeen-Angus and Charolais bulls for show and sale, for other breeders, and had his own small Charolais herd.

Poignant farewell

Henry, who latterly lived in Alford, passed away following a long illness. He was predeceased by his first wife, Isobel, and is survived by their son, Stephen. He is also survived by his second wife Mimmie.

A private funeral took place on Friday, February 11. The hearse drove by West Davoch Farm on the way to Tarland, where he was interred beside his first wife.

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