Merchant Company - James Oliver Award - Presentation 2019
Selkirk Merchant Company held its annual Winter Function at The County Hotel on Friday 8th November. Following a hearty meal, the Company was entertained by John Nichol’s performance of Dr John Stewart Muir: The Beloved Doctor. The play was adapted by John Nichol from the extensive diaries of John Muir who was a GP in Selkirk from 1867 until 1928. Filled with references to local places, historic events and people the one-man play was thoroughly enjoyed by the Company.
This was followed by the presentation of the James Oliver Memorial Award.
Since 2000 the award has been presented to an individual who is recognised by the Company as having given outstanding service to the Community. The award is presented by the Merchant Company but it is acknowledged by the people of Selkirk that the recipient is being recognised for their services to the whole town and community.
This year the award was a joint presentation to two people, husband and wife, Alison and Derek Brown. Either of them would have been deserving of it individually but their contribution to the life of the town often sees them working together, their areas of activity reflecting each other’s interests. It was felt that they make such a great team it would be unfair to single one of them out for recognition.
Their first and abiding interest has been Scouting, they met at a Scout disco! Between them they rose through the various layers of Scouting; Brownies, Girl Guides and Venture Scouts for Alison and the same path via Cubs and Scouts for Derek. Derek has been Badge Secretary of Selkirk Scouts for 45 years, a post he still holds. Among other duties, it is his job to send out the Scout Achievement badges to everybody who has earned one. According to Alison they have never lived in a house that didn’t have at least one room full of Scout badges!
As well as their work with Scouts and Guides they have both contributed to a huge variety of community activities which include sporting activities, Selkirk Common Riding, catering, theatre production and the Yarrow Show. Derek has been involved with Selkirk Opera for 28 years, during most of that time as Stage Manager, and was made a Life Member in 2016. Alison has spent much of that time on Front of House duties. They have both also made stage appearances to great critical acclaim in Scout shows and the Selkirk Christmas Panto.
In sports, Derek has been on the centenary committees of Selkirk Football and Rugby Clubs and was part of the 150th anniversary committee of Selkirk Cricket Club, where he used to turn out for the 2nds. He was scorer at Philiphaugh and also scored for the South a few times. Alison was an endurance swimmer; she taught swimming and worked at Selkirk pool for some years. She has become a keen bowler at Ettrick Forest Bowling Club, reaching a couple of finals this year.
They lived up the Yarrow Valley for many years. Alison joined the Rural where she was a very active member and Derek became the first non-farmer, non-landowner to be President of the Yarrow Show in 2013 and 2014. Alison has been Ladies Committee Convener for two years.
Derek went to work in Gardiner’s Mill in Common Riding week 1969 as a knotter and drawer, he’s now a warper with Selkirk Weaving Company. He was Weaver’s Standard Bearer in 2000 and Alison was his Lady Busser. He also served as Deacon from 2005 to 2010 and during this time he helped the Incorporation to mark and celebrate its 400th anniversary in fitting style.
In presenting the award Master of the Merchant Company, Alistair Pattullo, praised the couple for undertaking all their activities with real commitment and generosity of spirit, working away quietly and together getting things done and done well. He added that they are a real team and that if ever there were two people who deserved to share the recognition bestowed by the James Oliver Memorial Award it was Alison and Derek. They were also presented with a certificate by 2019 Merchant’s Standard Bearer Bruce Riddell.
Alison and Derek with their award and certificate
2019 James Oliver Award winners, Alison and Derek with Master Alistair Pattullo and Standard Bearer Bruce Riddell
John Nichol’s performance of Dr John Stewart Muir: The Beloved Doctor