Selkirk Merchant Company  


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Merchant Company - James Oliver Award - Presentation 2018

Friday 2nd November 2018
Selkirk Rugby Club

On Friday 2nd November 2018, Selkirk Merchant Company held their annual Winter Function,which included the presentation of the Jim Oliver Award by the Master of the Company David Heard to this years winner Jim McPherson.

The James Oliver Memorial Award is presented annually to the person chosen by the Company for their contribution to the town of Selkirk and its surrounding areas. The Award was donated by Mrs Isobel Oliver in memory of her late husband, Jim, a lifelong member of the Company, past Master and ex-Standard Bearer. The recipient of the award is the person felt by the Company to have given outstanding service to the local community over the years. Since the award was initiated in 2002 some 16 people have been recognised by the Company, and the recipients have served the community in a range of areas. Although the Award is presented by Selkirk Merchant Company, it is acknowledged by the people of Selkirk, that the recipient is being recognised for their services to the entire town and community. 
The winner of the Award in 2018 more than adequately fulfils the criteria of outstanding service to the local community. In their time in Selkirk our winner has been involved as a leader, trainer, supervisor or assessor with no fewer than 7 local organisations in addition to being an active member of numerous other organisations.
Born on the 11th October 1952 in a small village called Hopeman on the Moray Coast, Jim was educated at Hopeman Junior School and Elgin Academy before attending Aberdeen University where he obtained a degree in Natural Philosophy. On completing his degree Jim was offered jobs in Lossiemouth, Elgin, Hawick and Galashiels before deciding the Royal and Ancient Burgh was where he wanted to work and settle. The head teacher of Selkirk High School at the time was David Stewart and Jimmy Meikle was head of the physics department. During his time at the High School Jim taught Physics, Science, 'a bit of Maths' and Computing.

The Master said that as this year is the Year of Young People, when the committee were discussing candidates for this year’s award he had suggested to the committee that this should be taken in to consideration.  This year’s winner has certainly been committed to helping the youth in this town for many years now.

Since arriving here in Selkirk, Jim has been involved in many projects one of his first ones being the setting up of a very successful Canoe Club. Along with his good friend Alasdair Torrance they set up the club in 1976 with their first outing being on the 14th November on the Mill Lade. Jim recalls it was a lovely wind free freezing day with what felt like dozens of kids and only a fleet of four canoes.

In 1982 George Jack arrived as headmaster of the High School and this brought about the school exodus programme. Jim was again heavily involved with trips to Newcastleton to be bitten by the midges and various places in the Highlands and ski trips to the Ardeche in France. Next up was an invite from Ron Sutherland to head off to Kenya with the Borders Exploration Group in 1997 and 21 years on he has been on various expeditions and foreign adventures.

In 2009 retirement gave Jim the chance to get involved in other activities with school groups, these being canoeing (of course), skiing, cycling and helping with the Duke of Edinburgh award at most secondary schools in the borders.

As an overview Jim has been involved in: 

  • Selkirk High School Canoe Club
  • School trips
  • Ski trip leader
  • Borders Exploration Group
  • The Vine Trust
  • Bikeability Cycle trail leader
  • Duke of Edinburgh as a trainer, leader, supervisor and assessor
  • Chief Invigilator for the Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • SBC Outdoor Education as a Water Sports Instructor

Jim has been on trips with children to Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria, Romani, Kenya, Zambia, Mongolia, Cuba and Tanzania.

In his spare time Jim is a very active member of the Rotary Club and is currently President.

There is no question that Jim is a truly worthy winner of this year’s Award. David added that "in my mind he is committed to Selkirk and the youth of today".



Jim receiving his award



Jim with his award and certificate



Milly entertaining the company

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