Former Guild member Angus MacDonald, editor of The Scottish Farmer from the early 1970s until 1994, has died at the age of 80 years. His career in agricultural journalism is recorded in the following obituary written by The SF’s current editor, Alasdair Fletcher.
The year of 1955 was to be an important one in the development of The Scottish Farmer. A young man in his mid-20s was to join the staff as a reporter under the editorship of George Millar. That young man, Angus MacDonald, was later to succeed Mr Millar in 1973 and so become The SF’s fourth editor.
Prior to that, he had been assistant to the legendary Alex Yeaman, the agricultural editor of the then Glasgow Herald, for a short spell following two years with The SF’s great rival in Scotland, Farming News.
Angus MacDonald was born in September 1930 in the well-known Glasgow suburb of Govan, though his family roots originally stemmed from the Isle of Skye. As a young man, he hankered to be a journalist and had worked for a time in the telephone room at Outrams (publishers of the Glasgow Herald and Evening Times) taking down reports from staff writers and correspondents from all over the country.
One such occasional correspondent was Farming News editor, Willie Adair, who, in 1953, wrote to the 23-year-old Angus MacDonald, by then a general news reporter on the Stockport Express, offering him a job with his title. A move to the Glasgow Herald and then The Scottish Farmer came relatively quickly.
Some 18 years later, Angus was to take over the editor’s chair until his own retiral in 1994. During his period of editorship, The Scottish Farmer moved from being printed in black and white with the occasional ‘spot’ colour, to embracing what at that time was referred to as ‘four colour’ technology, firstly in pre-printed pages, then by full colour on the normal run.
It was also a momentous time for agriculture as the industry became ever more mechanised; the intricacies of the Common Market were to take up much editorial time. In 1993, Angus wrote The Scottish Farmer – One Hundred Years, a book that not only charted the history of the publication but also provides a historical resume of Scottish farming during this period.
Currently being serialised on the paper’s website, the remains a valuable work of reference for The SF’s staff and beyond.
Retirement in 1994 – when Angus was awarded an MBE – did not herald a ‘retiral’ from writing. He continued as a contributor for many years, especially on the works of Robert Burns of who he was an undoubted expert. Modesty more than anything prevented him receiving wider acclaim.
His retiral did, however, afford him the time to indulge in his passions for literacy (including the works of Burns), the Wester Isles of Scotland and the Clan Donald Society.
Angus died on August 23 after a short illness and just one month short of his 81st birthday. He is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Angus and Colin, and daughter Rona.
Note: Guild members can add their own tributes and recollections by emailing them to the website editor.