Hundreds say a fond farewell to farmer Bert
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