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Tribute: Martin Morgan

By Ian Anderson

I first worked with Martin in the 1980s when he arrived for interview to become a Higher Executive Officer within the Scottish Office Meat Hygiene branch. I knew immediately that Martin possessed all the required skills for the role. He also came over as a good guy, an impression which never changed over the subsequent 40 or so years.

Among our responsibilities at the time was hygiene controls in Scotland’s meat plants. This was when the EU single market was just over the horizon, a process which grew into the introduction of the UK adopting common European rules into our meat systems in 1992. That required new plant approvals, health marks, official documents, and all that. It was very technical stuff, but Martin mastered it in no time, helping many members of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW), which he later worked with, to implement the new requirements.

In wasn’t long, of course, before we found ourselves embroiled in BSE. Again, Martin demonstrated his mastery of the regulatory controls in his own low key, unflappable manner. Before long he became something of an expert on SRM (specified risk materials) controls and how product separation could be achieved at plant level without production grinding to a halt.

The day when, a few years later, Scotland secured EU approval to once again be allowed to resume beef exports, was a good one for Martin and for the industry at large. It was a fitting reward for the spadework Martin did on meat hygiene and BSE controls.

It seemed at times, however, that perhaps Martin should have been a fireman instead of a civil servant. Working in meat hygiene, after all, was often a case of dealing with one firefight after another. Having just got rid of BSE, for example, we found ourselves confronted by the UK-wide Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. I was promptly sent to Dumfries as Operations Director for FMD in Scotland, with Martin staying in Edinburgh to run the hygiene division in my absence. I never had a moment’s concern about that, knowing that Martin would ‘mind the shop’ every bit as well as I could.

Martin subsequently followed me into SAMW when I stood down in 2017 and I could not have wished for anyone better to carry on that work. His record as the Association’s Executive Manager truly confirmed that. He was calm in the face of adversity and never allowed any surrounding chaos or difficulty to distract him from the objectives of representing the interests of Scotland’s red meat processors. This remained true throughout the hugely pressured period of keeping plants operating in the face of all the COVID-19 lockdowns.

He will be missed by all of us in the Scottish red meat industry, so much so that I can say without any hesitation that we have lost a great, loyal, true friend and colleague, whose love of our industry was up there with the very best.