John Raoul Wilmot Stansfeld MBE, recognised as an innovator and pioneer in the Scottish salmon industry, has died in Montrose at the age of 84.
Known to his friends as Johnnie, as a major employer and local resident he had a strong duty of care for the town.
He worked tirelessly as secretary and fundraiser for the youth club, the YM Montrose, for which he received his MBE, and more recently promoting the reputation of the sculptor William Lamb who spent his working life in the town.
Born in 1935 in London, Johnnie spent the war years in America after his father, a captain in the Gordon Highlanders, was captured at St Valery in June 1940.
Johnnie and his younger brother, Martin, were evacuated to West Virginia where they were guests of American philanthropist, art collector and family friend, Paul Mellon.
Their mother, Molly, stayed behind to manage the family estate at Dunninald, near Montrose.
Returning home after five years, he attended the ‘Little Academy’ in Montrose before going on to Eton and then Christchurch, Oxford, to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).
In 1959 Johnnie followed his father into Joseph Johnston and Sons (JJS), the salmon company based in Montrose that managed an extensive section of the river North Esk and whose netting activities extended far up the east coast.
He served there as a director from 1962 until his retirement in 2001.
Throughout his 42 year career in fishing and fish-farming, Johnnie worked with commitment and vision towards the modernisation of the industry, for which he was both highly respected by his colleagues and widely recognised as an international authority on fisheries management.
He was a champion of the wild Atlantic salmon and fought for the protection of salmon from coastal drift netting.
As director of JJS, he oversaw the company’s diversification from wild salmon netting on the east coast to salmon farming on the west.
He was one of the first to make this move in Scotland.
After careful consideration, he found the ideal site at Scourie, Sutherland.
It was sheltered and accessible and offered the opportunity to revitalise the local community.
The operation grew to a production of 1,800 tonnes per annum and continues today under new ownership as a thriving business.
In 1971 as director of JJS he called together his fellow pioneers in the fledgling fish farming industry in Scotland.
With him in the chair, they agreed to form an association, which became the Scottish Association of Fish Farmers.
Through it, they could argue collectively on behalf of their new industry.
This was a crucial step in the establishment of what is now one of Scotland’s major industries.
With a deep-rooted sense of community, Johnnie was also passionate about all things to do with his home town, Montrose, a devotion which earned him the title Montrose Citizen of the Year in 1991.
He was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his work with the YM Montrose (formerly the YMCA) for which he served as secretary from 1972 until 2001 and latterly as patron. With his commitment, dedication and leadership he raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity which provides a sanctuary for young people.
He also gave his leadership with great enthusiasm to the 1977 Silver Jubilee legacy projects across Angus.
Johnnie will also be remembered for his tireless devotion to bringing the sculptor, William Lamb, to the nation’s attention.
After years of careful research in 2013 he published The People’s Sculptor: The Life and Art of William Lamb.
The book recovered Lamb’s reputation and established him as one of Scotland’s most important sculptors of the inter-war years.
In 1984 Johnnie was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Angus and in 1988 a Justice of the Peace, positions he held for the best part of two decades.
He was also a member of The Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s Body Guard in Scotland.
Johnnie met his wife Rosalinde during a fishing trip to the River Shin in 1964 and they married the following year.
The couple had three sons, Edward, Robert and Nicholas, and made their home at Dunninald.
Through his initiative, the house and gardens have been open to the public every July since the mid 1990s.
Johnnie later wrote a history of Dunninald for visitors and took particular pride in his efforts to make the woodlands more accessible.
He led a full and active life and will be greatly missed by his family and fondly remembered by many friends and colleagues and by the congregation of the Church of St Mary and St Peter of which he was a dedicated member, serving various positions over the years.
Johnnie is survived by his wife, three sons, six grandchildren and his brother.
A private family service was held at Dunninald and a memorial service will take place at the Church of St Mary and St Peter, Montrose at 2pm on Friday May 17.