WILLIAM McCubbin Thomson, shepherd, forester, countryman, was a well-known character throughout rural East Lothian.

Bill, as he was commonly known, was born on October 15, 1925 in Bridgehouse, Whithorn, the first born of eight children to Edith and Joseph Thomson.

Joseph worked the land, following the work in Dumfries and Galloway, so Bill’s childhood was spent on many farms in the area.

Bill then followed in his father’s footsteps into agricultural work before the Second World War.

During his life, rural Scotland changed dramatically. Bill was one of the last of his generation to remain true to the traditions of those times.

He opted to work outdoors whenever he could, whether that was driving a tractor on a farm or driving caterpillars, ploughing the fields in readiness for the planting of trees.

Things sometimes were not straightforward where Bill was concerned.

Once, when Bill was working near Stirling, the winch jammed on the tractor he was operating and the machine toppled, trapping Bill below.

Thankfully, Bill was rescued but in the process the ambulance crew had to cut off all his clothes – leaving his wellies.

His arrival at the hospital was greeted with a rendition of Billy Connolly’s ‘If it wisnae for yer wellies where would ye be…’ by the nurses on duty.

As a young man, Bill met, courted and married Liz McCrone, with whom he was proud to father his two sons Billy and Eric and was delighted with the arrival of six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

After moving to East Lothian, Bill met Fiona, his life partner for nearly 40 years.

Bill and Fee made their home at Thurston Home Farm Cottages, Innerwick, before moving to their much-loved home at Blackdykes, North Berwick, where they have lived for about 26 years.

It is clear that Bill’s peripatetic childhood gave him a wander lust.

He never lost this and was always on the move. In the early days, it was in one of his tractors or wagons.

Later on, when he finally had to give up driving because of his deteriorating eyesight, it was on his mobility scooter.

For years he was constantly moving his sheep around the county to and from fields at Newbyth, Tyninghame, Longniddry, Balgone and East Linton.

Another top priority outing would be going to the various marts; every Sunday at East Fortune, Stirling, St Boswells, Gorgie and best of all Lanark which, at one point, he seemed to be going to several times a week.

Sometimes it was just a look and to blether with his friends but usually it was on the lookout for a bargain, whether it was a wagon (because he seemed to be in a different one every three months), chainsaws, sheep, tyres, or potatoes.

Bill is missed by many but particularly Fee.

They miss his laugh, his joke-telling, his generosity, his appearance in his distinctive boilersuit and cap. They even miss his cantankerousness!

His GP in North Berwick, Dr Morgan Flynn summed Bill up as a legend and he was certainly a man who stayed in your memory long after regular contact with him may have passed.

By Hew Dalrymple and Pat Crichton