When Jake Fairley turned up for work on his first day at Hardiesmill Place Farm, near Gordon, the horsepower used was still supplied on four legs.
It is now 60 years since Jake’s first day at Hardiesmill and last week saw him become the first-ever Borders recipient of a long service award and medal for this particular milestone length of employment on one farm.
The occasion was the 29th annual presentation, on Friday, of Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) long service medals and certificates at the Border Union Showground in Kelso.
Jake was among the 18 recipients, and 150 other family members, friends and guests who enjoyed lunch, before Border Union president, The Duke of Roxburghe, presented awards to those with service from 30 year upwards.
The toast to the medallists was proposed by John Kinnaird, past president of the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland.
Speaking of the changes in agriculture, he told the medallists: “You are a credit to yourselves, family and friends and remember, you have something money can’t buy, and that is experience and no-one can ever take that from you.”
The reply. and then the toast to the RHASS. came from Harry Dodds, on behalf of the Border Union.
The reply came from RHASS director, Bill Gray, who said the annual awards event had “huge significance.”
“Today we follow in the long tradition in the RHASS and Border Union of recognising the loyalty, commitment and longevity that runs through agriculture in Scotland as a whole, and the Borders in particular.”
But he also sounded a note of warning: “Many of us in the industry fear for the future and have particular concerns about where the next generation of youngsters to take over from those who have served their time are coming from.
“Therefore, we must continue to help promote the benefits of working in the industry.”
The vote of thanks was given by Gareth Baird, past chairman of Border Union.
When Mr Fairley started at Hardiesmill Place in 1953, six men worked the 480 acres with a team of Clydesdales and the end-rigs were still scythed by hand.
Asked what the award meant to him, Mr Fairley, a tractorman and stockman who has served under four different owners at Hardiesmill, said he was delighted: “When I started in 1953, horses were still on the go, although they were on their way out by then,” he said.
“There was definitely more joy to be had in those days, but on the other hand, it’s a lot easier work these days because of modern technology.”
Asked if he planned to retire anytime soon, he quipped: “I’m going to keep going as long as I can!”
Hardiesmill is owned by Robin and Alison Tuke, who took over 12 years ago.
Mrs Tuke said Mr Fairley had been an amazing resource of knowledge and advice about the land to have been able to call on.
“It’s lovely to be able to reward the long service of Jake and the other medallists today,” she added.
Medallists: John Fairley, Hardiesmill Place, Gordon (60 years); William Henderson, Fans, Earlston (51 years); Norman Robb, Pawston, Mindrum (50 years); John Turnbull, West Kyloe, Berwick-upon-Tweed (50 years); George Lyall, Oldcastles, Chirnside (46 years); Bill Ebner, Manderston (42 years); Nigel Glendinning, Burnhouse Mains, Stow (41 years); Kenneth Wilson, Berryhill, Kelso (41 years);, Alistair Cutter, Burnhouse Mains (40 years); Robert Neal, Ormiston Mains, Kelso (40 years); Thomas Welsh, Kersknowe, Kelso (40 years); Keith Guthrie, Paxton South Mains (40 years); Richard Taylor, Milne Graden East Mains, Coldstream (37 years); Brian Nichol, Roxburghe Estates, Kelso (31 years); Brian Richardson, Faughhill, Melrose (31 years), John Hogarth, Hassendean, Hawick (31 years); Graham Easson, Makerstoun Estate, Kelso (31 years) and Ian Hogarth, Upper Blainslie (30 years).