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01 April 2022
‘Natural Co-operator’ Gareth Baird Receives Ed Rainy Brown Award
The 2022 Ed Rainy Brown Memorial Award has been presented to Gareth Baird for his truly exceptional service to co-operation and collaboration in farming, food, and rural Scotland. Gareth was presented with the award at the SAOS Conference Dinner at Dunblane Hydro (Thursday 31st March) by Katy Rainy Brown.
Introducing him as the recipient of the award, SAOS Chairman, John Hutcheson, explained how Gareth’s involvement had been to the great benefit of a host of co-ops and food, farming and rural organisations. He advocated that SAOS is particularly fortunate to have benefitted from Gareth’s wisdom and good judgement, as well as his passion and enthusiasm, over the last four decades.
(Pictured, left to right, are Tim Bailey, Gareth Baird, Katy Rainy Brown and John Hutcheson.)
John revealed that Gareth’s service with SAOS is, and will remain, unique, as the only person to have led the organisation both as President, from 2000 – 2003, and then Chairman, from 2007 – 2009. Both the organisation and the team have grown considerably since Gareth’s first stint, but three of the five project managers at that time are still with SAOS: Bob Yuill, Alan Stevenson and Hamish Walls. Robin Barron, also present at the dinner, moved on to manage East of Scotland Farmers, and Dougie Watson has retired.
Also now retired, is SAOS’s Chief Executive for both of those terms, James Graham, who could not be at the event but was keen to add a tribute to Gareth. He wrote: “There is no-one more deserving of the award or who better personifies what the award is intended to recognise. You are quite simply one of the greatest co-operators of our age. This springs from your genuine willingness both to be of service in our community, and to shoulder the responsibilities of leadership. You embody what we know as co-operative values.”
In closing, James described Gareth as a natural co-operator: “You make personal connections, you bring people together, and you provide the motivation, direction and leadership that bring results. And you do all this in a manner that is open, supportive, constructive, and co-operative.”
John was also keen to acknowledge Gareth’s contribution in encouraging SAOS to tackle issues beyond its co-op membership and to look further afield for ways that co-operation can benefit the wider agricultural and rural community. He added: “What is so evident to me is your exceptional ability to communicate with people at all levels as well as being able to think strategically with a real vision for our industry. On top of all this though, you are quite simply a thoroughly decent person and it is a huge personal pleasure to me to be able to announce this award.”
NFU Scotland Chief Executive, Scott Walker said: “Farming is an industry that needs constant innovation. And Gareth has been an individual who, for many years, has been willing to lead change through collaboration. His involvement in Scottish farming and the rural community, the wider food supply chain and other sectors, means he has always brought a wealth of experience to all that he does. Co-operation can help farmers adapt and give them strength in the supply chain. Gareth is an individual who believes in co-ops and the collective strength they can give to individual farmers and embodies what this award stands for.”