FORMER Droughtmaster Stud Breeders Society chief executive Neil Donaldson passed away last week after a period of poor health, aged 66.
Mr Donaldson spent 22 years at the helm of the Droughtmaster breed, steering it towards both financial security and greater popularity among commercial cattle breeders across northern Australia. He took the helm of the society in 1997, succeeding the late John Boydell.
Neil had a varied and colourful career in the livestock industry, starting as a livestock salesman with Primac (later to merge with Elders), travelling extensively throughout southern and western Queensland based out of branches at Wandoan, Oakey, Quilpie and Murgon. He later had six years’ experience in Papua New Guinea with Primac’s subsidiary company New Guinea Pastoral Supplies, before management appointments at Primac Theodore, Eidsvold and Biloela branches.
Neil’s extensive livestock industry experience also included stints in the early days of Computer Aided Livestock Marketing (CALM, now AuctionsPlus) as a field officer; as well as several years as assistant livestock manager (Feedlots) with Australia Meat Holdings. He later held a contract with Meat & Livestock Australia and Queensland DPI as a consultant on a number of projects.
He joined the Droughtmaster Society as chief executive in 1997, and over the next 22 years helped guide the Society to financial stability and solid membership growth. Membership increased by 70pc and female inventory by 82pc over the two decades he was involved.
Neil became a Life Member of the Droughtmaster Society last year, presented during a short ceremony at the annual National Droughtmaster Female Sale at Gympie.
The Droughtmaster Stud Breeders’ Society’s sales & events manager Leigh Eleison worked with Neil for thirteen years, while he was at the society’s helm.
“Droughtmasters are able to celebrate their sixtieth anniversary in 2022 largely due to Neil’s dedication to the breed,” she said. “Neil’s knowledge of our members, the cattle and the Australian bush was second to none. Neil was a true gentleman, an innovator and tireless advocate of the Droughtmaster breed.”
Droughtmaster Stud Breeders’ Society CEO Simon Gleeson, said it was a very sad time for the Donaldson family and the members of the Droughtmaster Society.
“For more than 20 years, Neil was instrumental in developing the breed and Society. He was very well respected in the industry,” Mr Donaldson said.
His second wife Joanne pre-deceased him in February. He is survived by his children Sandy, Will and Georgia.
Funeral arrangements will be added here, when they are advised.
I will never forget Neil’s ability to communicate and keep me informed of all happenings of The Droughtmaster Breeders success during my announcing career and during the past 12 months the encouragement and support he gave my wife Vicki who was suffering from bowel cancer and myself as a carer. Neil was always their for us even though his own prognosis was only 12 months to live. I will never forget his support in making a dream come true for Michael Inghram walking into the arena at Beef Australia in 2018 for that amazing interview about Michaels guts and determination to walk again and being a proud breeder of Droughtmasters himself. We were so blessed to have know such a man of vision who was so proud of his contribution to the Australian Beef Industry and Droughtmaster Cattle Breed for more than 20 years, but loved his family and was always so humble, positive and proud of his achievements.
Rest in Peace dear friend and thank you for being so generous with your time.
Angus Lane OAM.
Saddened to hear of the loss of Neil Donaldson taken so young. My best wishes to his family.
Truly Neil did a great service to those he was employed by particularly the Droughtmaster Breed, for whom he was passionate and far sighted.
The fruit of his labour of love with the Breed is clearly on display these days.
A quietly spoken gentleman of the Bush.
Rest in peace old mate.
Neil was a tower of strength to us through the sickness of Pat Flynn always ringing to chat to Pat and when he could would drop in to say hi and check on him.
The year 2018 was Pat’s 70th Birthday in March which Neil and My daughter Emma Thompson set about to present Pat with his Life Membership which Emma holds very close to her heart as one of the beautiful memories of Pats life of Droughtmaster Cattle which spanned over 50 years.
Its very hard to feel the loss of such decaited men and women of the Droughtmaster Society of which there is so many that have passed only hope that its as strong as now in the next 50 years.
Rest in peace Neil with your beautiful Jo-anne and may your family find peace in their memories of you.
Admired for his generous and gentle personality and an ability to manage disparate positions in every situation, Neil will be truly missed by all who knew him.
So sorry to hear this news. Neil was always a true gentleman and a passionate ambassador of the Droughtmaster breed.
Neil Donaldson will be sadly missed.
He was a scholar and a gentleman.
I worked closely with Neil for a decade while he was Operations Manager for Droughtmaster Australia.
You couldn’t meet and work with a nicer bloke.
Proud of his family, always organised and always knew every member of our society.
Rest easy Neil.