Douglas Watson receives Ed Rainy Brown Award for his commitment to collaboration and co-operation

The 2018 Ed Rainy Brown Memorial Award has been presented to Douglas Watson, an inspirational figure providing co-operative and collaborative support and development, particularly within local food and farmers markets. Katy Rainy Brown presented Douglas with the award at the SAOS Conference Dinner at Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 25th Jan.

Douglas joined SAOS as a Project manager in April 2000 and his first success was constituting the Scottish Association of Farmers’ Markets, later succeeded by the Farmers’ Markets Partnership, which supported the development of 75 farmers’ markets, with £18m of sales. Douglas’ unending enthusiasm for local foods stimulated its rapid growth to become a linchpin within the Scottish food and drink sector, and laid the foundations for its ambition and the overall success of the sector today. Douglas was a pioneer in understanding and communicating the importance for local foods embracing the social, economic, cultural, health and economic benefits it offers.

Douglas also developed the foundation governance course for co-op farmer directors. He brought the skills he had developed while a department head at Inverness College to design the course using a training needs evaluation system. Douglas inspired SAOS to be the first organisation to recognise how vital it is to have excellent governance driving success in our farm co-ops.

Tributes to Douglas’ work on behalf of SAOS’ co-op members and staff were led by Bob Yuill, SAOS Deputy Chief Executive, who announced the winner, commenting: “SAOS has been immeasurably enhanced by Douglas’ enthusiasm, dedication and remarkable social skills and, in particular, his networks throughout the West Coast and Scottish islands.”

“The local food networks and farmers markets Douglas has helped to nurture and develop mean that we have a vibrant and exciting local food culture in in Scotland that we can be positive about and proud of. Apart from his vision and professionalism, what I and his other SAOS colleagues admire most about Douglas, is his wonderful story telling and ever present good humour.”

George Lawrie, SAOS Chairman, added: “Douglas’ contribution to SAOS and our farm co-ops has been immense. Douglas has an innate business acumen that assists many of our co-ops, none less so than as Company Secretary to Scottish Shellfish, one of our most successful co-ops.”

“He is ever the enthusiast and innovator and constantly seeks possible improvements and new initiatives, such as the rural skills internship and encouraging our early adoption of an enhanced website presence and use of social media.”

NFU Scotland Vice President, Gary Mitchell, said: “The future brings a great deal of uncertainty and the potential for volatility. Douglas has a long and hugely successful track record in fostering the collaboration and co-operation that will be increasingly needed between producers, the food industry and the consumer if we are to grow and thrive in the post-Brexit era.”