Ayrshire dairy farmer Hugh Kennedy has been presented the John Dennison Lifetime Achievement award for his contribution to the dairy industry.
Hugh Kennedy, from East Carngillan near Tarbolton, was presented with the highly acclaimed award at the UK Borderway Dairy Expo on Saturday 11 March.
The accolade was established in 2013, in memory of well-known farmer John Dennison, with the aim to recognise a dairy cattle breeder who is judged to be an exemplary role model in the industry.
Described as a passionate ambassador of the Holstein breed, Hugh is well known and highly respected throughout the dairy industry.
He has been a leading breeder of Holsteins since he began farming at East Carngillan 54 years ago.
From those early days, he has expanded his Stair and Stairend herds at East and West Cargillan into a leading dairy and breeding operation whose bloodlines have won prizes and plaudits throughout the UK, Europe and the US.
On receiving the prestigious accolade, Hugh said: “This is unbelievable, I am absolutely speechless. I am so very humbled to receive this recognition.
"Cows have been my life, and I loved John Dennison, he was one of my heroes and one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever meet."
Having started with Ayrshires inherited from his father David, Hugh made his own decision to convert to the British Friesian breed, one of the first in the area in the late 60s.
He travelled to breed sales and dispersals up and down the country purchasing pedigree stock which founded the Stair herd in the early 70’s and enjoying great success in production and in showing and herd competitions.
In 1991, with both his sons choosing to go into dairy and the neighbouring West Carngillan farm bought in 1986, Hugh moved into the Holstein breed proper.
He travelled all over Holland and Germany buying in-calf heifers as the quickest and most economical way to build a Holstein herd that by 1993 was big enough to divide into the Stair and Stairend herds.
Having supported many shows and competed in West of Scotland Herd comps and the Scottish Club Herd comp many times he has won a raft of awards over the years: individual, progeny and the coveted team prize.
At the age of 79 and after the passing of his son Jim a few years ago, the difficult decision was made to disperse the entire Stair Herd on 7 December 2022 at H&H Carlisle.
This showcased the years of breeding and love that he committed to the breed – one of his greatest lifetime achievements.
Harrison & Hetherington’s (H&H) pedigree dairy auctioneer, Glyn Lucas said Hugh was 'admired and respected' by his peers.
“Hugh’s passion, knowledge and sheer joy in his cows, whether showing, judging, watching judging, attending sales or at home milking was an inspiration to everyone who came into contact with him."