From owning Scotland’s oldest butcher’s business to leadership roles in the NHS, Elgin butcher Jim Royan has had a varied career spanning almost 60 years.
Mr Royan, who was made an OBE in 1985 for services to the meat and livestock industry, is this year’s recipient of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS) public award.
The award, sponsored by The Press & Journal, is given to a public figure or personality for their services to agriculture.
In one of the citations for the award, Mr Royan is described as someone who has made a “considerable contribution to Scottish agriculture and beyond”.
It reads: “He played a significant role in encouraging new butchery techniques, new product development, high standards of retail presentation including the setting up of the Q Guild, and meat industry training.”
Born into a family of butchers, Mr Royan was the fourth generation of his family to run Royan’s of Elgin butchers which was established in 1850.
Royan’s, which is the oldest butchers shop in Scotland, was bought over by Inverurie butcher John Davidson five years ago, ensuring continuity of the 170-year-old business.
As well as running the family business and being an active member of the Young Farmers movement, Mr Royan took an interest in industry politics from a young age.
He was president of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders between 1971 and 1973, and a founding board member of SQBLA – the predecessor to red meat levy body Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) – between 1972 and 1978.
He was a commissioner for the Meat and Livestock Commission – the predecessor to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – between 1978 and 1995 and heavily involved in Elgin abattoir Rhinds of Elgin between 1980 and 2000.
Mr Royan was the first retail butcher to judge the supreme cattle championship at the Royal Smithfield Show in 1983 and again in 1987 when for the first time, and in front of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, he had to give his reasons for his decisions.
He was also instrumental in developing farm assurance schemes for cattle and sheep in Scotland – an initiative he chaired between 1988 and 1991.
“This was a ground-breaking project and positioned Scotland ahead of all other European countries, including England and Wales at that time,” said Mr Royan.
An invitation to join the board of the Moray Health Services NHS Trust in 1991 led to a 17-year career in the health service, with high profile roles such as the chairman of NHS Grampian between 2001 and 2008 and a non-executive director of the Scottish Ambulance Service from 2003 to 2007.
Away from the meat industry and health service, Mr Royan has held a number of other high-profile roles including being Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Moray between 2011 and 2020, Governor of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen between 1998 and 2006, and honorary vice-president at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) in 2005.
He has also served on the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and as chairman of both the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and the Moray Economic Partnership.
He cites his involvement in the president’s initiative at the Royal Highland Show, organised by RHASS, as one of many highlights in his career.
“In 2005 when on the board of the Scottish Ambulance Service it was the Highland region’s year of the Royal Highland Show,” said Mr Royan.
“It was agreed that the president’s project [at the show] would highlight the issues around rural health and wellbeing.”
He added: “The It’s Your Life initiative provided a platform to highlight various aspects of the health service to farmers and those in rural communities from search and rescue to the importance of regular health checks, health and safety issues and mental health.”
Mr Royan is currently the chairman of Developing the Young Workforce – an initiative to make the connection between potential employers with the education system to show youngsters what career options are available to them and the choices they can make including land-based industries.
Mr Royan is married to Jean – a farmer’s daughter – and he has two children, Gillian and James, and three grandchildren.
Mr Royan will receive his award at a special RNAS awards lunch at Jury’s Inn at Aberdeen Airport on Friday November 5.