Hun­dreds say a fond farewell to farmer Bert

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

A FU­NERAL for an is­land farmer saw a con­gre­ga­tion of more than 700 peo­ple gather in Salen and Ulva Parish Church last Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Cel­e­brat­ing the life of Robert Alexan­der Leitch who died on the last day of July, the min­is­ter, the Rev John Pa­ton and friends spoke of a man who loved the earth, his cat­tle but his fam­ily most of all.

Bert, pic­tured right, as he was known, moved to Mull in the 1970s with his wife Chris – they had taken on the lease of a farm at Lag­gan Ulva.

The cou­ple, who mar­ried in 1966, had slowly been mak­ing their way across Scot­land through Perthshire, Killin, Cri­an­larich and Taynuilt be­fore fi­nally set­ting on the west coast of the is­land.

Bert was pas­sion­ate about the land – he bred su­perb award-win­ning cat­tle but, at the same time, wanted to en­sure the fu­ture of hus­bandry and farm­ing through his work with the Na­tional Farmer’s Union Scot­land (NFUS).

Bert was well-known for his dry sense of hu­mour and the many an­tics he got him­self and his fam­ily in­volved in.

There was the story of a trac­tor held to­gether for years with string, of a bor­rowed jacket (al­most never re­turned) and of friend­ships that lasted a life­time.

Bert was in­flu­en­tial in na­tional cir­cles with his ideas on farm­ing and he en­cour­aged all who came into his sphere to get in­volved with recog­nis­ing the im­por­tance of work­ing the land.

The con­gre­ga­tion heard a mes­sage from his friend and fel­low com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor Ron­nie Camp­bell – ex­tolling the virtues of work­ing to­gether for the whole com­mu­nity.

One hymn and one song were sung at his fu­neral – the first was Morn­ing has Bro­ken and the sec­ond, Come By the Hills.

There was not a dry eye when the min­is­ter told the con­gre­ga­tion about a con­ver­sa­tion with one of Bert’s grand­chil­dren.

The Rev Pa­ton asked: ‘What did you like about your grandpa?’

She an­swered: ‘Noth­ing. I didn’t like any­thing about him.’ She then paused for a sec­ond, and said: ‘I loved ev­ery­thing about him.’

A re­tire­ment col­lec­tion was taken on be­half of the Beat­son Can­cer Char­ity.

A fam­ily burial last Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon saw Bert in­terred on the hill­side of his farm in a plot over­look­ing the sea.

A SAD DAY: Salen and Ulva Parish Church was packed for Bert’s fu­neral

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