Alastair Fraser

"Many years ago before the car ferry or a causeway had been thought of I visited Eriskay on behalf of the CroftersCommission. I had then the pleasure of meeting Father Calum MacNeill, the Parish Priest.

In the evening I chaired a meeting of crofters, trying to sell the notion of agricultural development – in the wrong market.  So I changed tack and asked what we might do for them. Hardly an agricultural request but they wanted a light at the harbour where they kept their boats. The chairman of the commission pulled the right strings and the Eriskay fishermen got their light.

Then Father Calum handed me a second unexpected problem when he said “ Could I draw to your attention the plight of the unique breed of ponies we have in Eriskay. They are in danger of dying out.” Earlier I had seen in the distance these beautifully proportioned little horses and I remembered the magnificent herds of larger grey horses running free in South Uist, herds which had all but vanished.  I was shocked to think this could happen to the foundation breed in Eriskay.

I knew of Robbie Beck, a live wire veterinary surgeon in Tiree with a great interest in horses.  By correspondence I introduced him to Father Calum.  Robbie went to Eriskay

 – and all else followed.”                                                                          

Alastair Fraser.

Dr Alastair Fraser was Crofter’s Commissioner for the Argyll Islands, Uist & Barra 1964-1982.

He was a great supporter and mentor for the Society and a Trustee until his death in 2001.