Ewen MacMillan Campbell
EWEN, the Auctioneer, as he was affectionately known was ‘a true Lochaber man’, as was stated on many of the hundreds of sympathy cards which the family received following his death on October 10.
Ewen was born on the family croft at 72 Camaghael, to Lachie and Annie on December 29, 1945. He attended Banavie Primary School where, among other achievements under the tutelage of the legendary Walter Cameron, he was a member of the MacKay Cup-winning shinty team of 1956. It was something most young shinty players would give their hind teeth for.
He then attended the old Fort William Secondary School. He was also a member of the Scouts and happily recalled various trips they went on, especially one to Belgium.
Ewen had wanted to be an auctioneer from a very young age and his brother Donald recalls how unfair he felt it was that his big brother was allowed days off school to go to the sales at the mart and he wasn’t.
Ewen was allowed to leave school early at only 14 years of age when Donald Cameron (DC) a director of Ben Nevis Auction Mart asked if he could come and do some part-time work to help out. Ewen started work on a full- time basis on July 1, 1961, as a junior and was promoted to manager in the late 1970s.
He remained there for the next 39 years building up the mart to a recognised livestock centre. He was employed by United Auctions and served as a director for many years . In the mid-1990s, United Auc- tions went into partnership with Dingwall mart and a new company Dingwall UA Ltd was set up. Ewen’s employment was transferred to the new company and that was the beginning of the end for him as a livestock auctioneer at Corpach. To his great shock he was made redundant six months after the new Ben Nevis Auction Mart was built and opened in 1999.
Ewen’s life completely revolved around the mart and there is no doubt that he absolutely loved it. Certainly, there were times when it was stressful and it put pressure on his whole family but he rarely showed this. He was always very calm and collected and treated every member of the community with the same respect. He was an honest, hard-working and respected auctioneer who spent hours on the phone at night trying to persuade buyers to come to that week’s sale.
As well as the sales at Corpach, Ewen and his team travelled to Skye to conduct sales in Ardvasaar, Torrin, Haste and several hillside stances in the north end of the island. He enjoyed helping the farmers and crofters to secure as high a sale price as possible for their livestock.
Ewen worked well with the local livestock hauliers and enjoyed the challenge of organising transport for these sales.
Furniture sales were a highlight of Ben Nevis Auction Mart in the 1980s and 1990s with the ring full of boxes and small items being sold on the first day and electrical goods and large furniture which filled the pens being sold on the second day. This was a service which Ewen provided for the community when the pulp mill was in its hey day. He also conducted clearance sales all over the West Highlands and Islands and enjoyed every minute of it.
After a long day selling, Ewen liked to relax with a dram or two and listen to country or Scottish music. Although not a musician himself, he took great pleasure in helping his grandchildren, Alice and Archie, with their music practice.
To keep in touch with the farming community following his redundancy, he took on the Marr and Macgregor dealership selling feed blocks and minerals as well as doing the occasional valuation and furniture sale.
Away from work, Ewen was a very sociable person, he liked the craic. He was a keen curler for many years and latterly enjoyed being part of the 10-pin bowling league. He was secretary of the Great Glen Sheep Dog Trials Association for over 20 years. He was a member of the British Legion and also a trustee of Kilmallie Community Centre.
Ewen was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and completed three courses of chemotherapy. He died in the most calm and tranquil manner, at home in his own bed with his family around him and the minister reading the words of psalm 40. One which he had chosen.
Ewen was a real Highland gentleman, a view expressed by many of the 800 farmers, crofters and members of the general public who paid their last respects at his funeral service in Ben Nevis Auction Mart. He is gone but he will never be forgotten.
Angus Roderick Grant, musician and inspiration.