In my teens and 20s, I worked on the family croft on Islay, of which I am now tenant.
I attended schools in Bowmore and Oban and, after agricultural college, worked as a shepherd before being self- employed on Islay.
With limited opportunities on the island, I joined the Department of Agriculture as a field officer working throughout Argyllshire for about nine years, during which time I visited Tiree three days each month.
After 16 years with the Crofting Commission as grazings officer and development officer, I retired in 2014.
These years with the commission gave me significant insight into how it operates, and I know many of the able and hard-working staff.
The commission has a policy to promote the establishment of effective grazings committees and actively support them. However, the commission’s recent handling of common grazings cases is one of the reasons why I am a candidate in this election. The recently published review of the commission emphasises the need for change.
I have visited every parish in the crofting counties and met hundreds of crofters, grazings committees and assessors. These contacts have given me valuable knowledge and experience which I will put to good use if elected.
I have been a member of the Scottish Crofters’ Union and Federation for 30 years. I speak Gaelic, though not fluently.
There are many matters for the commission to address, such as employment in crofting communities, simplification of legislation, active support for grazings committees, re-introduction of schemes like the Crofting Community Development Scheme, Croft Entrant Scheme and Cropping Grants.
With political change in the near future, the commission will need to promote the case for crofting and crofters to receive appropriate support, and I believe I can make a significant contribution to these discussions and decisions.