Billy McWatters: Gordon Macdonald - Triumph of the Human Spirit

Thu, Jan 16th 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Weekly meeting with guest speaker

The speaker at last week’s meeting was Mr. Gordon Macdonald who was welcomed by Vice President Ron Smith. Gordon’s talk focused on three ladies from our area and how they dealt with the difficult years of the First World War.

Mrs. Ellen Wilson was the wife of the schoolmaster at Roberton and she galvanised the local community into supporting the sailors and soldiers comforts fund, despite having a son, Lieut. Tom Wilson, killed in German East Africa. Her enthusiasm led to 4,337 articles for comfort being sent to our servicemen, whether prisoners of war or on active service – this number included 442 pairs of socks, 181 hospital bags, 139 pairs of mitts, 83 shirts, 71 mufflers. Though Roberton had no village hall in these days, she utilised the school for whist drives and concerts, all supporting the sailors and soldiers comforts fund.

Mrs. R.G. Laidlaw was born into wealth and privilege, and also took up the challenge. Over the war years she applied her natural talent for organising fund raising campaigns in the community, while bearing the burden of her own losses – her daughter’s husband Captain Robert Lumgair was killed in Palestine aged 26 years, and her other son in law 2nd Lieut. Charles Brown, wounded on the Western Front, was taken to Bristol where he died of his wounds aged 36 years. Mrs. Laidlaw remained strong despite her losses, and proved to be an excellent supporter of the sailors and soldiers fund. She lived long enough to share in the grief of her grandson being killed in World War Two.

Mrs. Elizabeth Abbey was widowed only three years after her marriage, and like thousands of other women never remarried, Her husband John was originally from Perth. However he was employed in Hawick as a foreman with Turnbulls Ltd. Cleaners and Dyers, and he then enlisted in The Black Watch At first it was feared he had been killed in battle, but eventually news came he was a prisoner of war. Very sadly he died on the journey home after the Armistice came. Gordon’s talk also detailed the strain and sorrow that these women had to bear during these years.

Questions were raised by the Rotarians present Rotarians, and a vote of thanks was then proposed by Chairman Ron Smith.

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Hawick Rotary Club has been able to obtain funding for the restoration of the village's Polysport facility after it was inundated by floodwater


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