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Raymond Smith: Respected ‘soil doctor’ and Monifieth Rangers club founder dies aged 54

Raymond Smith, 'Gers club founder and farming land specialist.
Raymond Smith, 'Gers club founder and farming land specialist.

Raymond Smith, the hugely respected Angus and Aberdeenshire “soil doctor” and founder of Monifieth Rangers Supporters Club, has died aged 54.

Gordon Raymond Smith – who was always known as Raymond – was born on April 30, 1967 in Barnhill, Dundee.

He was the son of Margo and Gordon, a gaffer at animal feed specialists, Forbes East Coast Viners, all of his life.

Raymond was proud older brother to Nicholas, with whom he had a lifelong bond, usually involving Rangers or music.

Working outdoors

Raymond attended Barnhill Primary then Mattocks in Wellbank.

Monifieth High School provided secondary education but it was football and helping his family work outdoors that were his true passions.

A young Raymond Smith pictured during his school days.

At the age of 16 he left school looking for an apprenticeship.

He got work as a driver with East Coast Viners but eventually did a diploma in agriculture with Aberdeen University.

The berry bus

Raymond was extremely close to his granny, Margaret Nichol. She ran a small berry farm in Wellbank called The Croft and to help her he would drive the berry bus around the area collecting pickers.

When the soft fruit harvest season came to and end he’d be back again to help with broccoli or tattie picking.

He always loved farm-based work and did a stint with Scottish and Newcastle brewers, managing their grain supply. And he loved being at his aunty Mina Cruickshank’s house too.

Sought after

After Raymond got his diploma he became an agronomist – a profession sometimes likened to being a soil doctor.

He was really well known and respected by farmers all over Angus and Aberdeenshire and was sought after for his vast expertise in this area.

“My dad always seemed to know exactly what they needed to do, in order to re-plant or rotate their fields. He would then provide what they needed,” said Gregor Smith, Raymond’s son.

It was, in essence, a sales role. He was employed for many years by CSC Protection and latterly Agrii.

Love and marriage

In 2001 Raymond met Karen McCabe on a night out.

Having been married before he had two sons, Steven and Gregor.

Karen and Raymond married on December 6, 2008 at Mains Castle, Dundee, and have one daughter together called Mia.

Family man: Raymond Smith, left, with his grandmother centre, and younger brother Nicky.

They had lived in Broughty Ferry for the last 13 years.

A music fan throughout his life, the pleasure he got from listening to his favourite tracks was only added to when daughter Mia showed an interested in sharing this passion with her dad.

Classic rock was always his favourite but he had to switch to something more mellow. After listening to his usual mix of rock music and upbeat country, he found himself the proud owner of a speeding ticket!

Football

Amateur football was always a significant part of Raymond’s life.

He played for Wellbank for almost 20 years, and when he hurt his knee he helped manage the team.

Raymond, in yellow, during his Wellbank days.

Also involved with the clubs his sons played for, he managed to get a licence to subsequently coach with Dundee and Dundee United.

Raymond also helped run Broughty United and Monifieth as well.

Supporters club

However, nothing could replace or come close to Rangers, so much so that he was one of the founding members of Monifieth Loyal Rangers Supporters Club.

“Dad was known all over for his job but second to that was all things football.

“I know a lot of people are grateful for him establishing the supporters club so we could all got to games together,” Steven said.

Pilgrimage to France

Both of Raymond’s sons were in the Royal Marines and it sparked an interest in military history for their dad.

Raymond began researching his own family tree too and discovered an ancestor who had been killed in the First World War. Buried in Arras, France, but whose grave had never been visited, Raymond made it his mission to find and pay his respects at the burial place.

The family of Raymond Smith are struggling to come to terms with his sudden death.

“It was a bit more adventurous than even he was expecting, as Karen had mistakenly booked the tickets and the airport was miles away from where he needed to be.

“We still laugh thinking about him trying to get across France on his own. But he did it,” said Gregor.

In the footsteps of Davie Glen

Another of Raymond’s relatives was famous Angus man-of-the-hills Davie Glen.

Raymond’s great uncle, he provided huge inspiration for his nephew, especially when Raymond became grandfather to Steven’s son William.

Seven-year-old William and his “Grandad Moond” bagged 35 Munros together.

Raymond Smith, 54, and grandson William, 7, Munro bagging.

The pair loved to be outdoors with one another.

“It’s bringing me a lot of comfort to think of the bond my dad and William had because it’s like the one I had with him too,” said Steven.

Gregor added: “My dad had a brilliant way of always being there for all of us. And finding that one thing he could use to connect with us.”

Sudden loss

Raymond passed away suddenly. Described as extremely fit and healthy and preparing for a charity cycle ride, he was out in Kirriemuir soil sampling when he suffered a heart attack.

Family say he had only spoken with colleagues 30 minutes earlier and there had been no signs at all of ill health.

Raymond Smith pictured in the foreground with Ben Lomond in the background
Pictured with Ben Lomond in the background, Raymond Smith.

“We are all devastated but just battling through,” said Karen.

“He was very modest and would be quite embarrassed by all of this attention.”

Remembered for his booming laugh and great sense of humour, hundreds gathered to celebrate his life at Murroes Church.

It was a few hundred yards from the farms he grew up on as a child.

He was a reliable man, devoted to his family.

He is survived by wife Karen, brother Nicky, his children Mia, Gregor and Steven, their partners, and grandson William.

You can read the family’s announcement here

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