The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, met farmers and crofters in Caithness to talk about the problems and the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland.
The Prince, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, was leading a “Seeing is Believing” visit of business leaders to farming communities in Caithness in his capacity as President of Scottish Business in the Community (SBC). The “Seeing and Believing” programme was established by His Royal Highness to give business leaders an insight into how they can play a role in addressing some of the key challenges facing urban and rural communities.
The Prince visited two farms in the Caithness area. First, he was greeted by local business leaders outside Dorrery Farm in Halkirk.
The Prince then visited a lambing shed where the farm‘s owners Clarence and Susan Munro showed him round.
Afterwards Mr Munro said: “He was quite knowledgeable and genuinely interested in what was happening with the lambing - he also asked what the problems were.”
The couple told The Prince that they had to downsize their operation as a result of the foot-and-mouth crisis. In response they opened a holiday cottage a mile and a half from the farm while Mr Munro took on a full-time job at Dounreay.
Later, The Prince was driven to Bilbster Mains Farm, in Bilbster, where he met farmer Danny Miller and was given a tour of the cattle shed. Before a lunch with local business leaders and farmers, it was announced that Deutz-Fahr UK Ltd had donated a £30,000 tractor to the Caithness Machinery Ring, a network of local farmers.
Several bales of straw were covered in tartan blankets and local musician Charlie Simpson played the squeezebox to welcome the royal guest.
During the visit, The Prince congratulated farmer Danny Miller, whose wife gave birth to their second daughter the day before the “Seeing is Believing” visit.
The “Seeing is Believing” visit to Caithness followed the publication of an in-depth study in April 2004, which looked at the traditional farming and crofting industries in Caithness.
It was commissioned by the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, of which His Royal Highness is President. The report found that Caithness had compared unfavourably with Orkney, in that it had not developed relevant niche markets or a Caithness brand.
The study called for more joined-up working between the farming community and development agencies and was the stimulus for the “Seeing is Believing” visit.