'Humble beginnings': SRUC research farm manager receives Princess Royal Award

Hugh McClymont alongside wife Christine McClymont receiving the award from Anne, the Princess Royal (Photo: RABDF)
Hugh McClymont alongside wife Christine McClymont receiving the award from Anne, the Princess Royal (Photo: RABDF)

Hugh McClymont, a research farm manager for SRUC Farms, has been presented with the RABDF Princess Royal Award for his outstanding contribution to the sector.

Hugh, who is recently retired, was presented with the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) award by Anne, Princess Royal.

Presented to someone who has had an outstanding contribution to the sector throughout their life, the Princess Royal Award is one of the highest accolades within the dairy industry.

Born and bred in South West Scotland into a dairy farming family, Hugh initially had little interest in dairying.

However, this changed when he was in secondary school, after which he gained a Diploma in Agriculture at the West of Scotland Agricultural College, now SRUC.

Seeing as he had lost the option of succession within the family farm he secured a position as herdsman at SRUC Crichton Royal.

From here he worked his way up the ladder culminating to research farm manager.

With a host of accolades to his name, Hugh is known for his many roles and positions throughout the industry.

In addition to the other board positions he has held, Hugh’s long career has encountered many highlights, but the key one, he admits, was being named the winner of the Farmers Weekly Dairy Farmer of the Year Award.

“I feel as though this was the most significant award because it considered the whole enterprise – including the dairy unit and its associated research systems,” says Mr McClymont.

In addition to the research programmes he managed, Hugh was passionate about encouraging young people into the industry, something reflected in his board position of RHET.

Over his career he has guided countless individuals into the industry, helping them gain the relevant practical experience they needed to progress their careers.

Hugh explains: “Whilst I have helped many young people over the years, I believe two of my biggest success stories come in the form of my children, with my son managing a farm estate South of Edinburgh and my daughter a dairy consultant for Kite Consulting.”

Hugh worked alongside Ark Veterinary Centre on a calf club initiative where he shared knowledge to improve youngstock rearing.

As part of this he showcased the farm’s calf housing changes – where calves were initially housed in individual igloos before progressing to larger open igloos in bigger groups.

Hugh conducted a significant amount of research into this project and its benefits to the point where it was a model for others to carbon copy.

Industry peer, RABDF council member and friend, Willie Whiteford says Hugh is always mindful of what’s happening in the dairy industry and is at the forefront when it comes to educating the general public.

He continues: “One of the greatest achievements regarding Hugh and his career is the fact he started off from humble beginnings – starting out as a herdsman to leading one of the largest institutions in dairy is no mean feat.”

A favourite saying of Hugh to many audiences is: "It’s no whit ye hae, it’s whit ye dae wi whit ye hae. (translated to: it’s not what you have but what you do with what you have).

The Princess Royal Award is run by the RABDF, presented each year since its establishment in 1991.