MP Angus MacNeil is honoured to meet Neil Macleod seen here presenting Angus with a trophy for highest travel expenses in 2007

I’d like to wish my Uncle Neil a very happy 65th birthday today!

You could call him The Croft Original and after 65 years living and breathing his island he’s certainly a one-off.

Of Lochs heritage and fluent in the gaelic, he helped establish and run Hebridean Engineering in Stornoway, has worked a 100+strong flock of pedigree Blackface and Cheviots for years (latterly with his dog Gael and nowadays with Rhona), has been heavily involved in supporting the growth of crofting and crofting produce through Quality Meat Scotland, Heather Isle Meats and the Lewis and Harris Sheep Producers Association. He has worked as an assessor for the Crofting Commission, chaired the Scottish Crofting Federation, worked as Director of the Scottish Sheep Strategy, picked up first prize at the Royal Highland show (and has hundreds more trophies and rosettes from elsewhere), dabbled in local politics, run marathons and even worked on St Kilda. Today he continues to serve the island, striving for its better future and helping to lay foundations for a new generation through his work with the Outer Hebrides LEADER funding action group.

There are probably a thousand other things I’ve missed out on here.

My Uncle Neil has always been a big figure in my life and I owe much of my love and knowledge of Lewis to him. From fishing to lambing, swimming to camping, crofting to weaving he’s been there, encouraging and supporting. I could only laugh when I saw the usual island internet “stars” and keyboard warriors take cheap shots at him recently over a simple attempt to show a little respect for the Sabbath tradition. They obviously neither know, or can match up to, the man. But as Oscar Wilde said “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about!”

So at 65 will he finally show any signs of slowing down? Much to my poor Aunty’s chagrin I doubt it. But in the spirit of taking things a little slower at least, he now relaxes by weaving yard after yard of Harris Tweed on his double width loom, turning out tweeds for the Shawbost mill, from croft to catwalk, still playing a part in the island’s revival.

Not a bad 65 years for a humble crofter’s son.

Co-latha-breith sona dhut!