Farming communities mourn loss of two respected farmers

Farming communities in Scotland are mourning the loss of two much-loved and highly respected farmers who were killed in separate tragedies.

Ian Whellans, 26, from Hume, near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, died following an incident at a farm on Sunday morning (11 November).

Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have launched an investigation into his death, which is not being treated as suspicious.

See also: Fit2Farm campaign launched to improve farmers’ health and wellbeing

Mr Whellans was well-known in the Borders for his role as Kelso Laddie at the town’s civic week in 2016.

A statement on Kelso Civic Week’s Facebook page described him as a “well-respected and much-liked young gentleman” who was a “credit to the association and the town”.

“He will be sadly missed by many, both near and far,” it said. “Our thoughts are very much with Ian’s family and friends at this very sad time.

“Ride on Kelso Laddie. Ride on!”

Mr Whellans also played for his local rugby club, Kelso Harlequins RFC. A minute’s silence will be held in his memory at the club’s next home match on 24 November.

A spokesman for Kelso RFC said: “Ian was a true gentleman and his passing has left a real numbness all around our great town.

“Splodge, as he was known, was Kelso Laddie in 2016 and he carried out his duties impeccably.

“He also loved his rugby and played for Kelso Harlequins and also at a senior level for Kelso RFC. He was extremely popular among his team mates and everyone is devastated by the news.”

In a separate incident, Neil Ironside, a 47-year-old Aberdeenshire contractor, has died following a tractor accident on his family farm.

Mr Ironside, director of construction firm KW Contractors, died on Saturday morning (10 November) at Auchlinn Farm near Turriff.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and the HSE has been informed.

In August 2013 Mr Ironside’s brother Alan, 39, died following an accident involving a combine harvester at the family farm.

Latest figures the HSE show that 33 people were killed in agriculture across Britain in 2017/18 – three more than the previous year. Four fatalities involved members of the public, two of whom were children.

The findings further cement agriculture’s unwanted reputation as the UK’s most dangerous industry to work in – around 18 times higher than the all-industry rate.

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