Born: September 17, 1929;

Died: October 31, 2021.

PROFESSOR Sir James Armour, who has died aged 92, was a distinguished veterinary scientist, whose knighthood in 1995 reflected his peerless contribution to veterinary science and education.

He had been a student at Glasgow Vet School and, in 1963, after spells working in Nigeria and England, he returned there, joining a strong group of scientists who in 1959 had developed the cattle lungworm vaccine, Dictol.

With his drive and ability the parasitologists rapidly became the largest group in Europe and possibly worldwide. Armour himself rose rapidly from lecturer to senior lecturer then reader, and was appointed professor of veterinary parasitology in 1976.

He helped to form multidisciplinary teams, including parasitologists, immunologists, pathologists and clinicians. They determined the pathogenic mechanisms of parasitic infections, most notably gastrointestinal helminths (parasitic worms) in ruminants, and developed new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

In key collaborations with computing scientists, he developed mathematical models for studying the epidemiology of helminth infections. He foresaw the importance that molecular techniques would play in the future of parasitology, and led the establishment of the Wellcome Unit for Molecular Parasitology at the school.

He was not only an outstanding veterinary scientist but a gifted teacher, too: many generations of students remember his inspiring lectures and his amazing memory for their names. In 1979, he was pivotal in setting up the journal, In Practice, which focused on post-graduate education in the profession, and was its first editorial board chair.

He published extensively, co-authored a textbook on veterinary parasitology, and lectured widely as an external examiner for undergraduates and post-graduates. There were trips to universities in Africa, Australia, South America and across the UK and Europe, and many successful research collaborations were established.

One key collaboration was with colleagues at Merck Sharp & Dohme and the development of Ivermectin. This broad-spectrum parasiticide was an outstanding success in a range of species and became the first animal health pharmaceutical to reach $1 billion in sales.

In 1986, the staff of Glasgow Vet School elected him as Dean. The late 1980s were a time of considerable austerity in higher education and, in 1988, the Riley Committee, which was examining the future of veterinary education, recommended the closure of Glasgow and Cambridge vet schools. The threat prompted an enormous reaction and Armour led a highly organised campaign with tremendous energy and commitment.

More than 700,000 signatures were delivered to Downing Street backed by support from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, politicians, the Scottish media and friends of the school across the world. The recommendations were overturned, paving the way for a period of considerable expansion, while he was awarded a CBE.

In 1991, he was appointed vice-principal of the university. He was a key member of the senior management team and played a major role in the university’s development before retiring in 1995.

Besides his distinguished academic career he was an exceptional golfer. In 1947, he won the British Boys’ Championship at Hoylake and, in 1950, qualified for the British Open at Troon. In 1952, he was Ayrshire champion and captain of the university team who were Scottish Champions.

He was club champion at Troon Portland (1955), Berkhamstead (1960-1963), Moor Park, Rickmansworth (1963) and Royal Troon (1969). From 1960 to 1963, he represented Hertfordshire and captained the Hertfordshire team which won the English Counties’ Championship in 1962-1963.

He had joined Royal Troon golf club in 1949 and was captain (1990-1992) and honorary president (2007-2010).

James Armour was born in 1929 in Basra, Iraq, where his Scottish father worked in the shipping industry. He returned to Scotland in 1935 after a military coup in Iraq, and Armour’s love affair with Troon and the west of Scotland began. He attended Marr College, Troon (1940-1945) and excelled in the exam hall and on the golf course. On leaving Marr in 1945, he worked on a farm for a year before going to Glasgow to study veterinary medicine.

After qualifying as a vet he got married, to Irene, with whom he had four children – Donald, Linda, Fiona and Craig. They spent six years in Nigeria, where he was initially a field officer in the British Colonial Vet Service then a veterinary parasitologist at the Federal Laboratories in Vom.

In 1960, he returned to the UK to work as a parasitologist at Coopers (later Wellcome) at Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, before returning to Glasgow Veterinary School three years later. In later life he held many key external appointments. He chaired, for instance, the Veterinary Products Committee (1987-1996) and was chair of the board of the Moredun Animal Disease Research Institute in Edinburgh (2000-2004).

Jimmy, as he was known, had high principles and detested dishonesty. He was a stickler for protocol and doing things properly. He had a humble and egalitarian outlook and treated people equally. Even Princess Anne called him Jimmy.

He is survived by his second wife, Christine, whom he married in 1992, and by Linda, Fiona and Craig.

Prepared by former colleagues