Death of popular auctioneer

Melvin Dalgarno was an auctioneer for more than 40 years
Melvin Dalgarno was an auctioneer for more than 40 years

A kenspeckle figure in North-east agriculture has died at Muirhead Care Home, Muir of Fowlis, Alford, at the age of 88.

Melvin Dalgarno was highly respected as an auctioneer with Aberdeen and Northern Marts for 41 years, starting as an auction clerk at Turriff in 1945 and managing marts at Insch, Aboyne, Torphins and Alford, before becoming general manager based at the Central Mart, Kittybrewster, Aberdeen.

Mr Dalgarno was a popular figure noted for conducting sales, farm roups and valuations with great efficiency, diplomacy and humour and was always ready to give his many customers any assistance required.

He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland and took particular pleasure in an invitation to attend the Queen’s annual summer garden party at Holyrood.

Mr Dalgarno took early retirement in 1986 at a time when the mart business was undergoing considerable rationalisation with the closure of a number of country marts but played a prominent role in the early planning of a new mart which culminated in the opening of Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, in 1990.

Following the death of his mother when he was four, he was brought up by his father, James Dalgarno, who travelled the world as a sales representative with the Wiggins Teape paper group, and joined the mart at Turriff on leaving school.

National Service was carried out at Edinburgh Castle, after which he returned to the mart to become an auctioneer at Insch.

In 1952, he married local farmer’s daughter, Gladys Booth, to whom he was devoted, and looked after the Booth family’s farming “books” for many years. He also served as an elder at the Howe Trinity Parish Church, Alford.

Away from work, his passion was golf and at his peak he succeeded in getting his handicap down to eight.

Along with his wife and eldest son, Colin, he was a founder member of Alford Golf Club and was responsible for setting up the senior section at the club.

He personally paid for a bridge to be built from the 17th hole to the 18th tee after a golfer fell into the water from the previous bridge. This generous gesture is recognised by an appropriate plaque.

A highlight was caddying for his youngest son, Stewart, when he qualified for the British amateur golf championship at Carnoustie and was proud to have his photograph taken with former Open champion, Tom Watson.

Also, with Colin, he won the competition held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Alford club.

A private funeral service and internment was held earlier this week at Chapel of Garioch Kirk – where he and his wife were married - and he is buried with the gavel he used throughout his career and an ornamental gavel presented to him on his retirement.

He is survived by his wife, who also lives at Muirhead, four sons, Colin, Gordon, Neil and Stewart, daughters-in- law, Julie, Margaret and Laura, four grandchildren, Alasdair, Catherine, Larissa and Stephanie, nephew, Graeme, and neice, Norma, and was predeceased by his sister, Sheila.