A farming pioneer who committed his life to building and strengthening cooperation in the agricultural industry has died at the age of 89.
Alexander “Akki” Manson died peacefully at his home on the family farm of Kilblean, Oldmeldrum, on Tuesday following a short illness.
The well-known farmer was a passionate advocate for agricultural cooperation and his efforts were recognised with a CBE for services to agriculture in 1989 and a Royal Northern Agricultural Society Award in 1995.
The father-of-three came from true farming stock. His great-great-grandfather, John Manson, founded Glen Garioch Distillery in 1779 having bought Kilblean Farm alongside his brother in 1804.
Mr Manson’s parent’s Captain Alexander Manson and Isabel Manson MBE were key members of the Scottish National Farmers Union and Women’s Land Army during the Second World War years, respectively.
Mr Manson lost his brother Jimmy on active service as a fighter pilot during the conflict, and farmed Kilblean in the post-war years.
It was in the 1960s, though, that his curious and entrepreneurial outlook piqued his interest in a new form of beef production being trialed at the Rowett Institute known as barley beef.
Mr Manson paired up with trial leader Reg Preston to prove how barley beef production could become a profitable and successful reality.
Mr Manson’s son Sandy said: “The production experiment reinforced the commercial reality that to build something of lasting value in agriculture you had to produce something that the market truly wanted, so it was essential to work closely with your customer and remain agile in satisfying those needs.
“He would champion this marketing principle with conviction for the rest of his life.”
Putting this into practice, Mr Manson founded the the Aberdeen Beef and Calf Limited farming cooperative in 1962. It went on to attract 90 members each marketing barley beef to the country’s supermarket giants.
After serving as the cooperative’s chairman for 14 years, Mr Manson was appointed honorary chairman in 1976.
During the same era he served as director of Buchan Meat from 1968 then as chairman 1982 to 1992.
That period proved one of considerable growth and development for the business before its unfortunate demise in 1996 as a casualty of the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis.
Mr Manson sat on the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society council in Edinburgh from 1963 to 1992, serving as president between 1986 and 1989.
And on a more national stage he was a trustee of the Oxford-based Plunkett Foundation from 1975-1992 and president of the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (UK) in 1990-1991 which saw him serve on the Brussels-based European equivalent.
Alongside his tireless commitment to national bodies, he was pivotal in the growth and development of the red meat industry in the UK, serving on the Meat and Livestock Commission from 1986 to 1995 and as a director of the Animal Data Centre from 1992 to 1995.
Following his retirement from his plethora of appointments, Mr Manson continued to farm at Kilblean and pursued his other interest in forestry and his surrounding countryside. He also took up membership of his local heritage group.
His son added: “He spent his life selflessly serving others but he was delighted to do so because he always felt he had a duty and a part to play in helping to build a better future for the next generation whether that was in agriculture, his community or the farm of Kilblean.
“Scottish agriculture has lost a true pioneer and champion of cooperation but he will feel satisfied that his work has hopefully helped others to succeed and prosper.”
He lost his wife of 63 years, Ethel, last month and is survived by their three children, Anne Manson, Lesley Collins and Sandy Manson.