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University honours proud Stirlingshire farmer

Robert Graham (senior), the son of the founder of Graham’s The Family Dairy, Scotland’s largest independent dairy, has joined (24 June) the President of Portugal and the new Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy in being bestowed with a prestigious honorary doctorate by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Awarded by the Principal and Vice Chancellor, Anton Muscatelli in the university’s James Watt Centre, Robert Graham senior proudly received his Doctorate of the University in recognition of the Stirlingshire born farmer and businessman’s ‘outstanding contribution to Scotland’s dairy industry and for his demonstrated leadership in the context of small and family owned businesses.’

A proud husband, father and grandfather, 68 year-old (Dr) Robert Graham has been chairman of the family business since 1996.  Highly respected for his knowledge of Scotland’s dairy and farming industry, he is also internationally recognised for his expertise in livestock management, developing the quality of breeds for which Scottish farming is renowned.

Referring to his honorary doctorate, a smiling Dr Robert Graham said:

“On behalf of my wife Jean and family and in the 70th anniversary year of Graham’s The Family Dairy, I am very, very proud to receive this honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University. 

It is a tremendous privilege to be recognised in this way.  I know my dear parents would have been very proud to know that their boy who left school at the age of fifteen to help on the family farm would one day be awarded a doctorate from such a distinguished university. 

“While constant innovation and the loyalty and dedication of our staff and over 60 local famers has ensured Graham’s The Family dairy has grown from strength to strength, I also passionately believe that our customers and suppliers also respond positively to our true sense of family, a rich farming heritage and Graham’s honest belief that we are always striving to produce the highest quality of fresh dairy products.”

In 1939 Dr Graham’s parents, Robert and Isabella, bought Airthrey Kerse farm in Bridge of Allan.  At the tender age of twelve, Robert Graham senior started making milk rounds by horse and cart in the local village.  At the age of fifteen, he left school to support his parents Isabella and Robert in running the farm.  He worked in every aspect of the dairy; including milking, delivery and livestock management and aged just nineteen took the helm of the dairy, then producing 400 pints of milk per day. 

Today, the award-winning family dairy, managed since 1996 by Robert Graham’s son (also called Robert), employs 300 people, produces 360,000 pints of milk daily and has a turnover of over £40 million. 

Dr Robert Graham is also a respected judge at Royal Shows and was the first non-Frenchman to judge at the Paris show.  He is also a judge at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh this week (25-28 June). 

He has won every major show and championship in the UK with his Limousin cattle while his lifelong passion for farming is reflected by previous senior roles with a host of industry societies including past president of the Berrichon du Cher Sheep Society and past chair of the Murray Grey Beef Society.

In 2008, his unstinting commitment to the local business community, including as the founding chairman of Stirling Business Panel, was recognised with a Provost’s Award for services to business and the local community.

Dr Robert Graham is the third member of the Graham’s family to be recognised by Heriot-Watt University.  His son Robert and daughter Carol, respectively the managing director and marketing director of the family business, graduated with degrees from the university.