Neil Manchester, managing director of Kames Fish Farming, who died suddenly on Sunday.

Tributes paid after sudden death of Kames MD Neil Manchester


Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Neil Manchester, managing director of Scottish steelhead producer Kames Fish Farming, who died suddenly at home on Sunday.

In a statement in LinkedIn, Kames said: “Our hearts go out to his wife and two children, we offer them all our thoughts and condolences at such a difficult time.

“It is a huge shock to everyone at Kames, as we’re sure it is to all of you who have known and worked with Neil. He was a much-loved leader, colleague and friend, who has added so much to our business. He has driven Kames forward in strategy, communication, team empowerment, marketing nous and industry expertise over the past two years, helping us to thrive and shaping our future. Most of all he had an absolute passion for our values, our community and our staff. We will carry on his vision and honour his great investment and commitment to us all.”

Outstanding choice

Manchester first joined Kames when he was a student at Harper Adams University in 1985 and returned to work there for more than 10 years after finishing his course.

He went on to have a successful career with ova suppliers Landcatch Natural Selection and Hendrix Genetics, before returning to Kames as managing director two years ago.

“He was the outstanding choice to run Kames when our founder Stuart Cannon was ready to step back, and he was delighted to come back to the area he loved so much,” wrote Kames.

Calm, encouraging, unafraid

“In the workplace, Neil was without fail calm, approachable, often chuckling, always encouraging, swift to praise, unafraid to stick to his guns, and always bringing it back to our ethos, to having the right priorities.

“Outside of work he relished no longer having to travel, settling his family in the West Coast countryside he enjoyed so much. He was a big fan of what he jokingly called ‘Jomo’ – the ‘joy of missing out’, or in other words, enjoying the simple pleasures of fishing, shooting, boating, camping and spending all the time he could with his beloved wife and kids – time that now has been so cruelly cut short.”

The company is encouraging people who knew Manchester to send in tributes that it can pass on to his family “so they can take great pride in all he has achieved – and will continue to achieve – in the superb example and legacy he has left us all”.

Doubling production

Manchester’s work at Kames included raising the profile of the Kilmelford-based company and its steelhead (sea-going rainbow trout), along with environmental initiatives and a plan to double production to 6,000 tonnes within five years by more efficient use of existing licences, aquiring new sites, and possibly using semi-closed containment. Kames exhibited at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona for the first time this year.

At time of writing, there were more than 50 tributes left on Kames’ LinkedIn post from people learning the news of his death.

“This is devastating news. I've only known Neil for the last couple of years but he was, we all agree, ‘one of the best ones’,” wrote Chris Wallard from Xelect, the St Andrews genetics company Kames is working with on selective breeding.

Ideas, common sense and humour

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott wrote that he last saw Manchester at Seafood Expo.

“He was a bundle of ideas, common sense and humour. A real person of the seafood family. All thoughts with Neil’s family, the Kames team and all who knew this splendid person,” said Scott.

Neil Drynan, managing director of AquaGen Scotland, wrote: “Having worked with Neil for longer than either of us would have liked to admit to, this came as a huge shock. We shared many a joke and challenging conversation but always came out of it positively.”

He added that Manchester was “a gentleman who will be sadly missed in the industry”.

A forward thinking leader

Tara McGregor-Woodhams, chiefs sales and marketing officer for aquaculture technology supplier Ace Aquatec, wrote: “Very sad news. Heartfelt condolences to Neil’s family and colleagues at Kames. I liked Neil enormously. He was a calm, astute, and forward thinking leader with a super sense of humour. He will be greatly missed.”

Marcel Huijsmans, marketing director for feed producer BioMar’s salmon division and a former colleague of Manchester’s at Hendrix Genetics, wrote: “What a shock and I still can't believe Neil is no longer with us. Being colleagues for years and working closely together on aquaculture marketing has changed my perspectives on the industry, but also on life.

“On several business trips, I had the pleasure to enjoy Neil's appreciation for the beauty of the places we visited and taking time to enjoy for example an early morning swim on a Hawaiian beach.”

Neil Manchester, left, with the Kames team at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona last month.