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Lifetime award for breeder and dairy icon

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Lifetime award for breeder and dairy icon

A DAIRY farmer from the region is this year’s recipient of the John Dennison Lifetime Achievement Award.

Although the Borderway UK Dairy Expo cannot go ahead, there has still been a presentation of the event’s prestigious award.

It has gone to David Yates from Meikle Firthhead Farm, Castle Douglas for his contribution to the dairy industry.

Born in 1931 and from a second-generation farming background, David established renowned Holstein herds which his sons Brian and David now run today.

At first, David senior was farming two farms by himself. He purchased East Logan in 1971, and then Firthhead in 1989. In 1996, he handed the farms to each of his two sons, and the boys continue to manage them today.

David was initially a dairy Shorthorn breeder but seeing that these were in decline, he moved onto Holsteins. By the mid 1990s he had converted to 100 per cent Holsteins. He established strong links with Canada, having first visited in the 50s when he helped export nine bulls across the Atlantic from the Perth Bull Sales. In 1982, he established the pattern of an annual visit to Canada. Regular imports of cows have continued, with the early ones by direct flights into Prestwick Airport.

Today, the family herds are built on cows that David bought or had shares in from North America.

Throughout his life David has also shown and judged shows across the UK, and his passion still inspires others to this day, including his own grandchildren.

On being presented with his award by the Dennison family, David said: “I’m highly honoured to receive the award. I’ve seen a lot of prominent people win it, and never dreamt it could be me. I can’t see what I’ve done to deserve it. It really is a great honour.”

Explaining why he nominated him, Tom Lomas said: “Mr Yates was a perfect candidate for the award, because everything it represents is exactly what he is about. He has had his own success within the industry, but also encouraged the next generation to progress and to take the business forward.

“David says that he wishes he could still do these things, but that his body just will not allow it anymore. To me, this really sums up how great this man is – that even at the fine age of 90, he still wishes to get up, get out, and see the cattle world for how great it really is.”

Meanwhile, Glyn Lucas, Harrison and Hetherington’s auctioneer and one of the judges, said: “We did not want to cancel the award just because we had to cancel this year’s Dairy Expo. So, we had the privilege of presenting the award at David’s home, following a “This is Your Life” video reminiscing on all his accomplishments.

“David Yates’ career stood out as an outstanding example of exceptional work ethic, astute business decisions and a driving passion to improve the animals he managed. He is an inspiration to his family, and to others.”

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