Willie retires after 45 years working the land

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A LOCAL farmer from The Co-operative’s farming business in Aberdeenshire has parked up his tractor for the very last time to retire after 45 years working the land near Inverurie.

Willie Thomson, a tractor driver at Delab Farm, Monymusk, which has been managed by The Co-operative Farms since 1995, plans to spend his well-earned retirement gardening and with his family.

The 65-year-old, who harvested 3,050 acres last season, was responsible for combining, spraying and ploughing, as well as relief cattle work, including feeding and calving The Co-operative Farms’ only livestock, a suckler herd of around 130 cows and their calves.

Over the years Willie has seen many changes since he started as a 20-year-old in 1967, with the size of the estate vastly increasing and also huge progress in mechanisation.

Willie said, “Working conditions have improved considerably, with machines now having comfortable cabs with suspension, sound and dust-proofing, climate control, radios and even fridges in some cases. In the past comfort depended on how good your clothes were!

“I’ve enjoyed my time working at Monymusk and for The Co-operative Farms. I’ll miss my colleagues and working outdoors in beautiful surroundings every day, although I will probably still keep a close eye on what is going on at the farm.”

The Co-operative Farms manages several farms in Aberdeenshire on behalf of their landowners, which currently covers around 3,600 acres of crop and grassland, where it grows wheat, barley and oilseed rape.

Colleagues joined family and friends for Willie’s retirement party, which was held at the historic House of Monymusk, courtesy of Sir Archibald and Lady Grant of Monymusk, Willie’s employer for the first 28 years on the farm, where he was presented with gifts, including a model combine harvester.

The Co-operative Farms also arranged for Willie to attend Old Trafford to watch a Manchester United game.

Robert Drysdale, The Co-operative’s Farm Manager at Monymusk, added: “Willie has always taken a real pride in doing a great job and he’s treated the farm and its equipment as if they were his own. He has a great knowledge of the entire estate, which has been invaluable over the years. In fact, Willie’s knowledge, experience and dedication will be hard to replace, so much so, that finding someone to fill his wellies has been a real challenge!

“It has been a pleasure to work with Willie for the last 15 years and on behalf of everyone at The Co-operative Farms I would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment over the years and we all wish him a very happy retirement.”