It would be fair to say Eva could have been overawed at having such a gifted sibling in Jim a Berry with all his inventions and creations; he was more of an outgoing person while Eva remained in the background. Eva from an early age accompanied her father on his trips to the mainland attending shows and livestock auction sales. Their base on the mainland was their farm/estate of Pitmedden on the outskirts of Aberdeen which John Smith purchased in the early 1930s.
It was no surprise that it was Eva who took the lead at Berry Farm when their dad’s health failed and he eventually passed away. Berry always had very capable farm workers they had a good grasp of general farm work and Eva worked alongside them learning from the likes of Magnie Smith of Berry.
Eva at an early age built up a reputation as being amongst the best in her breeding and knowledge of Shetland ponies, taking many honours at home and the UK mainland. In 1948 she was appointed as judge in the Shetland pony class at the Royal Highland Show, thus becoming the youngest judge selected at that time. She was also a pony judge in Ireland and was invited to judge in Australia, but felt it was too long to be away from Berry.
When Eva was not working on the farm or with her ponies one of her favourite pastimes was horse riding, and would be seen galloping through the Berry fields on her horses.
When I was working at Berry farm in the late 1960s I soon found out who wore the trousers. Eva was always giving out orders making it very clear who was boss. When we were taking in the harvest, be it hay or corn, Eva would work on one side of the tractor and trailer and I the other, loading the harvest on board the trailer.
When “caaing” (gathering) the sheep, Eva had to be at the forefront. My last Berry hill round up she insisted, although quite elderly, to take her place with her faithful dog in time served tradition.
As I mentioned before she was a fierce competitor and could be quite critical of pony judges especially visiting ones from further afield. I remember a classic example in the year 2000; Eva entered a stallion in a very prestigious local show and came last in the class. She came in to the work furious, vowing never to compete again and what did that judge know about horses. I had asked, “So you will not be taking part in the Shetland Millennium Show?” “No,” was the angry response. I replied, “We shall see, I will be at the show and I will take your picture receiving the Supreme championship from H.R.H Prince Charles!” This was met with a, “No you won’t!” The image below clearly shows I was correct!
Eva took part in many pony shows and was very fortunate to have someone like Jim who could turn his hand to anything when required. Two images below of a sulky and horse gig were built by Jim.
Eva had a great interest in Jamieson & Smith created by her dad, and when he passed away took on the joint running of the company with Jim. This connection with the company carried on even after they sold the company in 2005. Shortly before she died in March 2018, Eva was still giving me orders on how the company should be run. That last conversation summed up the type of people the Smith family were, Eva thanked me for all the hard work I had done for their family over the years at the wool store and at Berry Farm. Very dignified, respectful of others and very humble, it was a great honour for me to work for them and also to be one of the Berry boys, they are sadly missed.
I now move forward in my journey with Shetland wool in upcoming blogs.