One of Arran’s true gentlemen

The late Peter Mackenzie.

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Peter Mackenzie May 23 1924 – June 25 2021

Peter was born on May 23 1924 in the cottage at the Knowe Farm where he remained all his life.

He attended Whiting Bay Primary School and then went on to further education in Glasgow.

He had always wanted to go to sea but due to the outbreak of the Second World War he had to return home to help on the family farm.

During this time his father became seriously unwell so Peter never got to fulfil his dream of making his career at sea.

However, that didn’t stop him having a lifelong love of the steamers of the Clyde and CalMac boats.

Peter, like many others of the time, never sat a driving test having received special dispensation due to the war.

After his father passed away he continued to farm at The Knowe Farm with his brother Stewart and they were one of the last farms on Arran to use Clydesdale horses.

In 1962 Peter met and married Mary Tod from Glenree Farm.

During that same year Peter and his brother Stewart purchased Stonefield Farm where Stewart and his family moved to leaving Peter and Mary at The Knowe Farm.

Peter and Mary were blessed with three children: Neil, Robert and Alastair. Both Neil and Robert left the island to pursue careers on the mainland.

Alastair joined the family farm in 1982 when he left school and then, a few years ago, they were joined by his son Colin, which meant six generations had worked on the same farm.

Three generations milking cows together was something that Peter was extremely proud of.

Peter was a keen participant in the Arran Farmers’ Society shows.

He loved showing his Ayrshire and Friesian cows and along with brother Stewart won many rosettes over the years.

Peter was extremely proud of his grandsons, Colin and Fraser, when they followed in his footsteps showing cows.

In 2011 when Princess Anne was at the Arran Show for the second time, she asked Peter: ‘Do you come to the show often?’ to which he replied ‘every year’ followed by her reply of: ‘I only come once every 25 years!’

Peter milked cows right up until his early 90s and was determined to milk the last cow when the farm stopped milking cows in 2015.

Peter always continued to take a keen interest in the farm.

A question he’d ask on an almost daily basis was ‘any more calves yet?’ and it is rather fitting that one was born on the day he passed away.

One of Peter’s hobbies was his bowling, being a keen member of Whiting Bay Bowling Club.

He was the last surviving founding member from 1958 and was president for eight years.

He won many trophies over the years both at Whiting Bay and the Arran Federation Bowling Club.

He was always enthusiastic to pass on his skills and welcomed anyone who wanted to try a game of bowls, including teaching Whiting Bay primary children.

Peter had a dry, quiet wit and when asked at the bowling green one night if he was a local he replied politely: ‘No, I’m a native.’

Peter had a wealth of knowledge of his area of King’s Cross and Whiting Bay and he loved sharing stories of days and ways of life now long gone.

He was involved in Arran High School heritage project for many years and regularly conducted guided walking tours of Whiting Bay.

Peter loved his music, both listening and playing it.

He played the Lamlash Church bells for over 45 years and was the longest continuous servicing bell ringer.

Despite having never learned how to read music, he used to sit and practise the tunes for the bells on the piano, learning them by ear alone.

The only reason he gave up was because he could no longer climb the ladder to the bells.

He also played the accordion, the chanter and the moothie. Even latterly he had his moothie in Cooriedoon and would enjoy playing a wee tune.

Scottish songs were sung every day when he was cleaning the milk tank apart from a Sunday when hymns were belted out at the top of his voice.

Peter played football in his youth until a knee injury put paid to that. He was a diehard Partick Thistle fan but enjoyed all sports following them either on the radio, in the paper or on the TV.

Peter, having never flown before, visited New Zealand in 1992 with his wife Mary.

It was more than a 24-hour flight – he didn’t believe in doing things by half measures.

Peter has six grandchildren: Alexander and Donna, Hollie and Iona, and Colin and Fraser who all adored him and he them.

Most of all he just loved being at home on the farm; being out amongst the cows and it was only when his health declined two years ago and the family could no longer care for him that he had to leave his beloved home and be cared for by the wonderful staff in Cooriedoon.

Peter was a quiet, unassuming, gentle, kind and contented gentleman who will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.