Star students say goodbye to a popular Bill

Published Monday, 29th October 2018 in News news

Bill Dingwall as young man next to photo of Bill in present day.
Bill pictured at a sheep auction in 1989, left, and at SRUC’s 2018 summer graduation

A large group of distinguished graduates – including world champions, Olympians and company directors – have paid tribute to a popular lecturer who has retired after 36 years at SRUC.

Dr Bill Dingwall, Agriculture Programme Leader at the Edinburgh campus, celebrated with college alumni at Craigie’s Farm Restaurant in South Queensferry, which is run by former SRUC student John Sinclair.

John graduated in 1989, with other former students in attendance including Robert Reid – Richard Burns’s co-driver when he won the World Rally Championship in 2001; Olympic curlers Kyle and Cammy Smith and Glen and Thomas Muirhead; Steven Mitchell, who runs the famous Buffalo Farm in Fife; Penny Montgomerie, CEO of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Club (SAYFC); and Sally Williams, a director of the Oxford Farming Conference.

Entertainment came in the form of Jim Smith, another SRUC graduate who is now better known as “the stand-up farmer”.  

Originally from Crieff, Perthshire, Bill joined the Animal Production Advisory and Development Department of what was then the East of Scotland College of Agriculture as a Sheep Production Specialist Adviser in November 1982.

From the start of his career, Bill was involved in Education and in addition to the college’s HND course, he taught on the BSc Agriculture, MSc Animal Breeding and MSc Tropical Animal Production courses of the University of Edinburgh. 

When SAC (now SRUC) started its own Agriculture degree course in 1998, Bill was asked to take the role of year three tutor, moving to the King’s Buildings and becoming Programme Leader in 2002. 

Under Bill’s leadership, the Agriculture course has become well established, with 100 students enrolled and Bill was well known for organising a wide range of visits and study tours to demonstrate science in practice. 

His dedication to students was rewarded in the final year of his career with the Principal’s Lifetime Achievement award and the SRUCSA Edinburgh staff member of the year award.  

Bill is particularly proud of his contribution to the development of genetic tools and reproductive technologies for the sheep industry, and specifically organising what was probably the first UK on farm auction sale of performance-recorded sheep in 1989.  

In 2010, he helped take over the Glasgow Science Centre as part of the Biology for Schools programme, debating ‘Animals In Science: Farm Or Pharm’ in front of 250 pupils from all over Scotland.

Bill said: “It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces stretching back more than 30 years. SRUC is fortunate to have such talented Alumni with many continuing to provide support in the education of the next generation, particularly through hosting farm visits. 

“I wish the organisation well for the future and hope that the transformation plan delivers state-of-the-art campuses in which the next generation of those wishing to work in the agricultural industry will be educated.

“Now that I’m retired, I intend to do some travelling, catching up with friends and family but also past research colleagues who are conveniently dispersed around Europe!” 

Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said: “Bill epitomises the terrific values of SRUC, always endeavouring to add value to the student experience through assisting them to obtain support to attend events such as the Oxford Farming and SAOS Conferences.

“Former students came from far and wide to pay tribute to Bill, which pays testament to his popularity. Along with his colleagues and hundreds of current and former students, I would like to offer Bill my heartfelt thanks and very best wishes for the future.”

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