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New Year Lunch – 2023

Five former presidents marked the 30-year anniversary of the birth of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) with a walk down memory lane at the 2023 New Year Lunch in Edinburgh.

The pre-lunch programme opened with a heartfelt and fitting tribute to Martin Morgan, the Association’s Executive Manager for the past five years who sadly died in the days leading up to the NYL. Delivered by close friend and colleague, Ian Anderson, the tribute was welcomed by Association members and industry guests as a special opportunity to acknowledge Martin’s diligent commitment to SAMW and members’ interest throughout his time in office.

Tribute was also paid to Doug Ward, a firm supporter of SAMW over many years and a close friend to many in the Association, who died in early January.

Presidential memories from 1989-2022


Former presidents at NYL 2023: (l-r) Jimmy Robertson, Alan McNaughton, Neil Stoddart, Allan Jess, Alan Craig, and 2023 President, Ian Bentley.

Jimmy Robertson, 1987/89, led the meeting in a look back at SAMW’s earlier days, reflecting on the beginnings of the Meat & Livestock Commission, the loss of local authority meat inspectors “who knew what they were doing” to a centrally controlled system which was “forced on the trade in a desire to be European Citizens”.

Neil Stoddart, 2000/03, took up the story with tails of working visits to Brussels, often with little reward for the industry; the start of Scottish devolution; the birth of Quality Meat Scotland, and the deeply unpleasant task of dealing with the UK’s Foot and Mouth Outbreak in 2001.

Allan Jess, 2006/09 & 2016/17, focused his comments on the vital importance over the years of SAMW’s Executive Managers, Alan Stevenson, Alistair Donaldson, Ian Anderson, and Martin Morgan. He also highlighted the camaraderie which has always existed across the SAMW membership and the commitment of many individuals who have given their time and energy to protect and develop the Scottish red meat industry throughout its history.

Alan Craig, 2009/12, spoke about the emergence of the single farm payment during his presidency and the Association’s anxiety that this would lead to a massive reduction in livestock numbers. He also dealt with the development of the Sheep Strategy Council and, as a little light relief, enjoyed revising a few sponsors’ descriptions from annual dinner speeches of the time.

Alan McNaughton, 2016/16 & 2021/22, concluded the memories session, with mention of the formation of Food Standards Scotland; debates surrounding WATOK (animal welfare); concerns of livestock supplies and the need to keep hitting the ‘in-spec’ livestock message to help reduce the number of very-fat/too heavy animals arriving at meat plants most mornings of the week.

The following former presidents were also present at the 2023 NYL:

Alan Kirkwood, 1997/2000

Isla Roebuck, 2003/06

Frank Clark, 2017/19

Andy McGowan, 2019/21

Ian Bentley, 2022 –

Teamwork at NYL 2023: (l-r) Alistair Donaldson, Andy McGowan, Allan Jess, Jimmy Robertson, Alan McNaughton, Isla Roebuck, Frank Clark, Alan Kirkwood, Neil Stoddart, Alan Craig, Ian Bentley, and Ian Anderson