Tributes have been paid to a Highland farming stalwart who has died.
Stewart Whiteford, 69, part of a well-respected farming dynasty in Easter Ross, was a former vice-president of the National Farmers Union (NFU).
Stewart and his brothers Jim, Alan and David, all had farms in the Fearn peninsula near Tain, until retiring in 2017.
Born in February 1951 to John and Betty Whiteford , the family was brought up at Shandwick Mains Farm, Nigg Station.
He was educated at Gordonstoun School, followed by Edinburgh University where he read Agricultural Economics followed by a Masters Degree in the same subject at Guelph University, Canada.
His brothers, paying tribute to Stewart, said: “He came home in the early 1970s and along with his father John and brother Jim transformed the recently acquired Wester Rarichie Farm, Fearn into a highly productive mixed enterprise unit including 180 suckler cows that were his pride and joy
“He was NFU livestock convener for several years in the early/mid 90’s and vice-president for 1996/98, including a spell as acting president in 1998.
“He was also director of Scotch Quality Beef and Lamb Association 1990-98, chairman of the Aberdeen Angus producer group and the Meat and Livestock Commission’s Beef Strategy Board in the late 90s.
“He was also chairman of Highland Acute Healthcare Trust from 1999 until 2004.
“Stewart was adored by his eight grandchildren and is survived by his three children Rosalind, Stephen and Katie, loving partner Alison along with brothers James, Alan, David and sister Fiona.”
John Ross, former NFUS President, said: “Not only was Stewart Whiteford a valued colleague during my term as NFUS President, he also became a close friend. In my travels north I would always be welcomed at Wester Rarichie.
“It was also my privilege to get to know his wider family.”
He added: “As a farmer he was never content with the status quo. He was always searching for innovative ways to improve his business.
“He brought that desire to his time as an elected office bearer with the NFUS. He had the ability to question in a challenging but supportive manner. This was done with his typical enthusiasm.
“Above all however he was a real people person and was at ease whether at a Mart, NFUS Branch meeting or with Government officials.
“Life in Stewart`s company was never dull. He will be greatly missed.”
Tain and Easter Ross councillor Alasdair Rhind said: “Stewart was a very well-liked man in the community. He was a great ambassador for the farming industry and was much respected within farming circles in Easter Ross.
“My deepest condolences go out to the family at this sad time.”
His colleague Derek Louden said: “The family are well known and respected and did a fantastic job farming in Easter Ross.
“They all put a lot in to the local community so I am very sorry to hear of this loss.
“Sadly, because of Covid restrictions, it will mean strict limits will be put in place on how many people will be able to pay their respects at the funeral.”
A spokesman for the NFU said: “It is sad news of the passing of former vice-president Stewart Whiteford.
“From a well-respected farming dynasty, Stewart was livestock convener for the union in the mid-nineties and was vice-president between 1996 and 1998 – including a brief spell as acting president at the end of 1997.
“Our thoughts go to all Stewart’s friends and family at this sad time.”