Billy Scott is a dairy cattle and show enthusiast

There were few better loved dairy cattle enthusiasts than Billy Scott, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Billy, who farmed near Largs, loved his family, friends, agricultural shows and telling a story with his sparring partner Hugh Kennedy, wee Shug – or Jack and Victor, as they were more commonly known!

He loved to make people laugh and he thrived on other people’s company and laughter.

Billy also loved going to shows and he enjoyed winning but didn’t mind being beaten as long as it was by a better cow!

His father always told him he was wasting his time showing at Rothesay Show as the Holstein trophy had never ever left the island, but after years and years of trying – and thanks to a shrewd purchase of Kepculloch Brencot, from Robert Steel, he eventually conquered it and returned home victorious to the mainland with the silverware. The cow that won was renamed the ‘Rothesay Invader!’

He was that chuffed and enjoyed it that much, he went back the following year and did it again with a different cow, Watergate Evergreen, a big skinny Holstein cow that was aptly nicknamed by the Rothesay boys ‘Bagabones’!

He bought another cow from Robert Steel, a pure white one with a black ear. He reckoned he paid too much for it and would jokingly phone his good pal once or twice a week at Kepculloch to register a different complaint about it – he was only joking but the call went along the lines of: “Hello, is that the complaints department?” to which Robert would reply: “Yes, hold on I’m just writing it down, complaint No 16 … what’s wrong with her now?”

It is believed that he got to complain No 33 before the warranty ran out! That was the first cow he showed at Agriscot and she was that special he got someone in to get her clipped professionally. The young George Borland, aka ‘Becks’ – appeared at Netherhall to clip her, which Billy reckoned put Becks on the map!

Billy loved showing. It was where he met all his friends and together with the late Peter Howie, they showed every weekend at local events. He always said, though, he knew when he picked Peter and his cow up in the morning if he was in with a chance of winning that day!

If Peter looked in the float and said: “Oh your fit the day Billy” – then he knew his chances of winning were slim but if he said: “Oh I don’t like your cow the day Billy” then he was in with the shout. Peter hated big skinny Holsteins and preferred his wee traditional Ayrshires.

When the cows at Netherhall were sold in 2004 to help fund the purchase of Shacklehill, the showing stopped. However, it was rekindled in 2017 when a milking herd was put on Shacklehill!

Billy was given a new lease of life which, together with his wife, Sheila, wee Shug, Robert McInnes, Joke from Newlands, George Borland and many more became the support staff! They would go to shows and watch the judging intently and then go to the bar and correct the judge where he had got it wrong!

He also enjoyed Largs sheep dog trials and the dog sales. He would come home with loads of stories of people running dogs that were absolute pot lickers – with very colorful tales of their lack of skill and obedience.

That being said, he always came home for the milking! Sometimes a bit late, sometimes very late but he always came back to work. He always knew he was in trouble too when Sheila called him ‘William’ but mostly she took it all in good spirit. Billy played hard and definitely worked hard!

One year he came home from Largs Show not too well and said to Sheila: “You start the parlor – I’ll go and bring the cows in.” After 20 minutes and no sign of cows, she went out to the field to find the bike going round in a circle slowly with his finger stuck in the throttle and Billy slumped over the handle bars sleeping – and all the cows lying watching him!

He also enjoyed going to sales, usually down south. One time Robert McInnes and him treated Sheila and Kate to a lovely holiday.

They left at 5am, horsed down the motorway, went to a sale in Cheshire waited until the last lot, didn’t buy any, horsed on down to a beautiful hotel in Cornwall, got there at 10pm, missed their dinner, got up early , no time for breakfast as they had to get to the second sale which was Summercourt to look round the cows – bought one each – back in the car and seven hours drive back up the road – boy they were ‘lucky ladies!’

His last few social events saw him meet a lot of his old friends that he hadn’t seen since pre covid! The Berryholme Open Day, Matt Armour’s Annandale sale and Tarbolton Show, where he won his last ever class that he competed in with a heifer in milk that he had bought at the Great Yorkshire show in 2019 as a new-born calf after her mother had been reserve champion!

Billy was exceptionally knacky and good with his hands and together with Scott Gilliland and son, Robbie, helped build the last two sheds at Shacklehill shuttering walls, putting in slats and laying concrete. A year before he passed, he also did all the wooden fencing around the garden and new shed just before ill health got him and took him far too quickly.

His last few months and especially weeks, were made more bearable by the kindness and patience of the district nurses, Gail and Lesley, and latterly the staff of Station 12, at Ayr Hospital, to which the family were extremely grateful.

Billy worked hard, he played hard, he lived for laughter and company with his friends. His wife Sheila was his best friend and he was extremely proud of his two sons, Robbie and Alistair, and daughter-in-laws Margo and Sinead. The biggest thing that broke him at the end was the thought of not seeing his four grandchildren grow up – but he knew they would go on and make him proud.

RS