Obituary: Ian McLaren, respected farmer and keen winter sports enthusiast

Ian McLaren, farmer. Born: 13 March, 1949 in Dundee. Died: 5 February 2021 in Coupar, aged 71

Ian McLaren

A love of family, farming and friendship were the driving forces that prevailed throughout the life of Ian McLaren.

It was a very fitting tribute, therefore, that his sons shared the driving of the Massey Ferguson tractor their father had used regularly to feed the cattle, for his final journey from Cronan to Kettins Church.

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He spent the first 50 years of his life at Fintalich Farm, near Crieff, where he farmed in partnership with his cousins Stuart and Jim. He was educated at Morrison’s Academy before attending agricultural college in Edinburgh.

After a romance kindled via Young Farmers, he married Heather Livingston in 1972 and the couple had three sons – John, Michael and Peter.

Ian and Heather moved to Cronan in 1998 and shortly after that the original farming partnership was restructured, with Ian and his immediate family driving the business forward and successfully growing their livestock and arable enterprises.

As well as his family and business commitments, he devoted a lot of time to organisations and activities within the local and wider community. He was an Elder in Muthill Parish Church, and an Elder and the Session Clerk in Kettins Church.

He was a past Chairman of Strathearn JAC and was very involved in NFU Scotland, having been chairman at branch level and National Cereals Committee convenor. He also served on the Home Grown Cereals Authority for nine years and was a board member of the Scottish Crop Research Institute in Dundee, now known as the James Hutton Institute.

He was also a keen winter sports enthusiast and a lifelong member of Drummond Castle Curling Club. He served on the Board of Perth Ice Rink as a Director for over 40 years, including seven as Chairman. His tenure covered the landmark move of the Ice Rink from Dunkeld Road to Glover Street and the establishment of the Dewar’s Centre.

A love of curling also took him to Canada in 2003 as part of a highly successful Royal Caledonian Curling Club tour. He was always keen on travel, particularly gleaning ideas by seeing at first hand the different technologies and innovations being employed by farmers around the globe. He and Heather enjoyed many agricultural tours overseas including to Australia, Russia and the USA.

On both the livestock and arable sides of the family enterprise, Ian had a strong interest in analysing performance data and was continuously looking for ways to innovate and improve the farm business. This included a recent major investment in eco-friendly energy provision via the installation of solar panels to provide electricity for broccoli and potato cold stores.

His business acumen was underpinned by his friendly, direct manner along with his determination and focus – also in evidence while curling and in conversation. He also shared the McLaren trait of wasting no time while walking and a tendency to leave companions struggling to keep up!

Likewise, he was keen on value for money and regularly tallied up 250,000 miles on his trademark Audi cars. These were often to be found parked in the broccoli fields, and on wetter years sometimes spotted being towed out of them!

He liked to remain connected to the consumers of his produce and could regularly be found in deep discussion about broccoli and potato prices, with the manager of his local supermarket.

Ian was devoted to Heather, immensely proud of his family and liked spending time with his grandchildren, his sister Morag, and many cousins, nephews and nieces.

He enjoyed the company of people from all walks of life and hearing the ideas and aspirations of neighbours, friends and fellow farmers.

In all aspects of life, Ian conducted himself with integrity and combined this with a wry sense of fun, a twinkle in his eye - which often preceded some gentle teasing - and a determination to look on the bright side.

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