Kim Fraser, stockbroker and estate manager

Born: January 4, 1946;

Died: May 30, 2020.

THE death at 74 of Kim Fraser, the last son of the legendary war hero, the late Lord “Shimi” Fraser of Beaufort, brings to an end the latest era in the almost Grecian tragedy that befell the Lovat Estates in the early 1990s, when much of the estate and their castle at Beaufort had to be sold to meet unexpected debts.

Kim was a quiet, honest and amiable businessman whose 25 years’ of work helping to re-imagine the estate and implementing its new strategies were greatly appreciated.

The Frasers of Lovat have lived for the greater part over 700 years years in a leafy glade near Inverness and from their great castle there at Beaufort have intermittently ruled vast swathes of the Highlands.

Indeed it was once estimated that it might almost be possible to walk from one side of Scotland to the other without leaving Lovat land, which extended over much of the north of Scotland, down the Great Glen and even to parts of the west coast.

However not all the land was held for entirely commercial reasons. The great abbey at Fort Augustus, for example, was owned by the Lovats and were rented to the monks for a token one pound a year.

Whilst business is always business, in some ways the Lovat estates were run more as a traditional clan than many estates and much of the land was loss-making and held through honour. Seven hundred years of tradition inevitably cut deep into the business arrangements of any estate.

In the 1970s Shimi, having suffered a heart attack, and fearing an early death which would have brought about massive inheritance taxes, handed over the castle and the lands to his eldest son, Simon, an imaginative businessman of ambition.

Many of Simon’s ideas were sound but he suffered a good deal of bad luck and when he himself died of a heart attack whilst out hunting at the age of 54, the impact on the estate was enormous.

It was a massive shock to all and the estate soon found itself in dire financial and cultural circumstances, a dynamic that was further exasperated by the almost simultaneous death of another of Kim’s brothers, Andrew, who was gored to death by a buffalo while hunting in Africa.

Soon the castle and much of the land was lost: the castle was purchased by Ann Gloag, of Stagecoach, while many of the western acres of the estate were bought by the theatre impresario, Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

Kim was at the time a successful stockbroker who had worked in both Hong Kong and London and was living in the south of England.

He had been educated at Ampleforth and served in the Scots Guards before settling in the south.

On hearing of the tragedies at home he immediately started making visits there to intermittently join the team who were attempting to ensure that the debtors did not bring about legal proceedings that would have seen the dissolution of the entire estate.

He was already married Joanna North, with whom he had three sons – Tom, Joe and Max – and four years later the entire family moved north permanently and his commitment to the estate became even greater.

Kim was in many ways well-suited to the work, having known so much of the land in his youth when he was keen on fishing and climbing, particularly on estate lands.

He was respected by many of the tenants and estate staff for his ease of manner and general accessibility.

His roles in the re-modelling of the estate were many and various and at one stage he was the acting chairman of the managing company. Lovat Highland Estates, but his primary role was as the amiable and accessible face of the senior Frasers.

He was much celebrated for his straight dealing and was typically known to shout with joy when spotting a friend before wrapping him in a hug.

He was a man who was happy in his skin and often exuded a sense of almost infectious well-being and generosity of spirit.

In 2011, however, the ill luck which many say has often plagued the Frasers fell on him, too, when he suffered a massive stroke, from which he was never to fully recover.

Aided by his second wife, Sarah, the noted Highland historian, whom he married in 2010, he continued however to make a positive contribution and took much joy in planting large areas of broad leaf trees to act, as he put it, as a “lung for the planet”.

He was also invited by many local organisations to officiate at their functions and he retained a role in the community in spite of his incapacities. He learned in May this year that he had terminal cancer; he greeted the news with a dignified acceptance.

Speaking not long before her death in 2009, Mrs Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President Kennedy, remarked that when she heard of the the many tragedies that had befallen her family’s friends, the energetic Frasers of Lovat, she wanted a message sent to Shimi that in her opinion the Lovat Frasers were the nearest thing that Britain had ever produced to match the Kennedys.

Today, 25 years since the events that inspired the reorganising of the Lovat Estates, much has changed.

The castle has been sold, as has much of the land, but it could have been a great deal worse for the estate had it not been for the likes of Kim Fraser and those who worked with him in difficult times.

A stone to his cairn.

Maxwell Macleod