Course: BSc Agriculture
Campus: SRUC Edinburgh
Simon Hogg was in the BSc Agriculture Class of 2000. He told us about his student days, his passion for rugby, life as an SAC Consultant, and the impact his father’s MND had on his family.
“From the day we stepped into college, it was great, the third years were there, they looked after us and took us out. We’re still in touch with all of these guys now. The lecturers were all so friendly and approachable and are still happy to stop and talk at agricultural shows.
“I’ll always remember one of Bill Dingwall’s lectures- his first lecture on a Thursday- and he said, ‘Right, who was out last night?’ and half of us had our hands up thinking ‘oh no we’re going to be in trouble for being a bit hung over’, and the other half of us didn’t have their hands up. Bill looked around and said, ‘Well, that’s not good enough, we need everyone out enjoying themselves on a Wednesday night. As long as you’re here on a Thursday morning I don’t mind if I have to ply you with Irn Bru and bacon rolls to keep you going.’”
To make the very most of College life Simon joined the Agrics and played on the Agric rugby team. He was also playing for his Kelso team in the Borders.
“I was a part of Agrics and in the rugby, it ruled your life a wee bit. We’d play with the Agrics on a Wednesday. On Thursday a group of us would always travel down to Kelso to train with our other club in the Borders, and you’d finished and be getting ready with jeans on with a nice shirt on. My mates from home were like ‘what you doing?’ And we’d say ‘we’re going back up to Edinburgh coz we’re going out on a Thursday night as well’. They kinda envied us a wee bit. We thought it was fantastic- out Wednesday night, back home to the Borders to train and then out again in Edinburgh on Thursday night. Then it would be back home to Kelso on the Friday night or Saturday for the game on Saturday.
“The Edinburgh Agrics got an invite through a French Agrics college to go play a rugby sevens tournament, so we went to France. We were all sleeping in this big gym hall. We found the supermarket and had desperados and whisky all night long.
“At half 8 in the morning we were all ‘right up boys c’mon let’s go!’ The French boys couldn’t believe we were up-‘but you boys were all up drinking whisky’, and we said ‘we’re alright’ and you could see the fear in their eyes. So we’d won before the game even started.”
After graduating, Simon ventured to Australia and NZ in the pursuit of travel but was lured back home when an opportunity came up with SAC Consulting. It was during this time that Simon met his wife, Ashley.
“I learnt so much during the time I was with SAC. It’s the valuable things you learn as a consultant, a different view, especially on the business side of a farm. It’s really helped me now with benchmarking, what to look for in accounts, and things like diversification.’’
Simon (r) with his pal Andy. The two pals donated their voices to Speak Unique in memory of Simon's father.
In 2009 Simon left SAC Consulting to take over the family farm with Ashley, after his father, David Hogg, was diagnosed with MND. Simon’s father sadly passed away that same year.
Simon went on to donate his voice to Speak Unique, a project run by The University of Edinburgh, aiming to give voices back to people with degenerative diseases.
“Everyone has a charity that’s something close to their heart, whether it’s cancer or giving blood, but because my Dad had MND, this is something that is quite personal to me. It was my wife Ashley who saw a post about Speak Unique on Facebook, and how they need Scottish regional accents. So I came up to Edinburgh to the Anne Rowling Clinic to donate my voice. It’s easy enough to do, you just read out sentences in a sound booth for just under an hour. Your voice is recorded and banked, and could be there for somebody that needs it.”
Simon’s farm is mainly arable, with spring barley which goes to the whiskey industry and beer brewing. However, diversification is crucial in making business thrive.
“We can’t survive by doing what we’ve always done and not look at changing anything. We run two self-catering holiday lets, horse liveries (people living horses on the farm), I also do contract ploughing and fencing and that sort of work.”
Simon doesn't play rugby nowdays- but still enjoys catching up with old classmates to reminisce about college days!