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Obituary: The Rt Hon Hugh Fraser, farmer

The Rt Hon Hugh Fraser Farmer. Born 14 November, 1947 at Beaufort Castle, Kiltarlity. Died 20 February, 2011, at Balblair House, Kirkhill, near Inverness, aged 63.

The Hon Hugh Fraser was the son of the celebrated and charismatic Lord Lovat who led the Lovat Scouts at the attack on Arnhem Bridge in the Second World War and had the delightful tradition of carrying a rolled-up umbrella into action and being accompanied by his own personal piper. Hugh Fraser was equally devoted to the Highlands and preserving its traditions and resources.

He took a passionate interest in, and was very knowledgeable about, forestry. Trees and their preservation, especially native woodland trees, was one of his major concerns when he was chairman of the northern region of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society (RSFS).

On hearing of his passing, his brother Kim Fraser of Lovat Estates spoke warmly of his brother. "Hugh was a quiet man, intelligent, more inclined towards the intellectual side. He was a serious historian, very intellectually curious, but liked to keep himself to himself. He did a number of things in the community and was very much liked by everybody. Hugh had many friends from his university days who have gone on to great things."

Hugh Alastair Joseph Fraser was born at the family seat in Invernesshire, the fifth child of the 17th Lord Lovat. Like his brothers, Simon, Kim and younger sibling Andrew, he was educated at Ampleforth and he then read philosophy, politics and economics at Christchurch College, Oxford. After graduation, Fraser joined Marks & Spencer's management trainee scheme, working principally in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Leicester. Fraser then spent some years working for the entrepreneur Algy Cluff whose Cluff Oil was having considerable success in its drilling programme in the North Sea.

But Fraser's devotion to the hills of Scotland drew him back to the Highlands and he began work as an estate manager for the Earl of Seafield at Cullen in Aberdeenshire. The experience convinced Fraser that he wanted to make farming his career and after taking an agricultural course in Aberdeen he assumed control of the family's farm of Ord Farm at Muir of Ord. He proved a most successful and very much hands-on farmer whose abilities were much respected by other farmers.

Fraser was a most active chairman of the Invernesshire branch of the RSFS - where many members knew him as Hugo. He cultivated, with much care, an area of woodland on his own farm - mostly Scots pines and larches - and was always well briefed when attending the regular RSFS meetings, especially the main weekend conference in the spring.

In the mid-1990s, the family was struck by tragedy when two of Fraser's brothers, Simon and Andrew, died within months of each other. A year later, his redoubtable father also died.Fraser was a popular local figure in Invernesshire and played an active part in many events, giving up much time to serve on numerous committees. He was a devout Roman Catholic and a regular at St Lawrence's Catholic Church in Dingwall and it is significant that the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, will officiate at today's funeral.

Fraser was chairman of the Black Isle Group co-operative movement, a member of the Highlands and Islands Valuation Appeal Committee, a member of the National Arts Collection Fund and a governor of Butterstone School at Dunked. He took special pride in presenting the annual Lovat Shinty Cup and regularly attended the shinty match annually played on New Year's day between Lovat v Beauly for the Lovat Cup.

Fraser was also a passionate angler and much enjoyed fishing the rivers of Invernesshire and Speyside. He served for some years as a director of Moray Firth Salmon Fisheries.

He had been diagnosed as suffering from cancer, but faced the illness with the same courage and fortitude that he had displayed throughout his life. He took great comfort from his long and happy marriage and his family. Fraser met his wife Drusilla at a London party in 1975. After a whirlwind romance lasting three weeks and five days they got engaged and were married the following year.

Fraser is survived by his wife and their three children.

 
 
 

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