SELKIRK RUGBY CLUB
ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF NEW MENTAL HEALTH OFFICER
looks forward to his new role at Philiphaugh. [Photo – JOHN SMAIL]
DESPITE the absence
of any rugby this season, Selkirk Rugby Club continues to work hard in the background to support players and club
members through this stressful time.
Many people in the
community have been facing difficulties with the lockdown and other problems caused by the pandemic.
In response to this, and with an increased focus on wellbeing in tandem with Scottish Rugby, the Selkirk club can
announce the appointment of Dr Ruaraidh MacKessack-Leitch to the role of Mental Health Officer.
“This new role, currently in development, aims to promote positive mental wellbeing amongst players and members
of our rugby community,” Ruaraidh told the selkirkrfc.com website this week.
Additionally he is keen to support anyone involved with Selkirk Rugby Club or local community when they are having
struggles with mental health.
“This is a difficult time, with many different challenges facing families throughout the country,” Ruaraidh said.
“Mental health problems can affect anyone, from any walk of life, at any time in their life.
“My aim for the role is to have an open door to anyone who feels they need help with their mental health or are
concerned about others. As a club we are keen to support anyone who needs it.
“I am new to the area, but so far have seen great spirit and enthusiasm within the club, which is fantastic for
the community and its resilience.
“I would really appreciate if anybody in our community has any ideas, suggestions or thoughts on what they would
like from the club and Mental Health Officer.”
More updates on the development of the service will be posted in due course. If you would like to contact Ruaraidh
for more details or advice, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone is feels they are in need of urgent mental health support, then please contact Breathing Space on www.breathingspace.scot
or 0800 838587, call 111 or speak to your local GP practice.
SELKIRK RUGBY CLUB
MOURNS THE UNTIMELY LOSS OF THREE PHILIPHAUGH STALWARTS
Billy Bryson and Graham
Scott (sitting first and second left) pictured enjoying the 2017 Selkirk Past Players Club lunch in the Philiphaugh
Suite. [Photo – GRANT KINGHORN PICS]
Obituary, Mr Billy
RUGBY refereeing has lost one of its leading lights, following the death of Selkirk’s Billy Bryson, who died in
the Borders General Hospital on Saturday, January 9, at the age of 84.
A life-long interest in rugby union saw Billy quickly rise up through the refereeing ranks, becoming one of the
Borders’ most senior whistlers. After injury curtailed his career on the pitch, he switched his energies to supporting
referees in an administrative role.
A founder member of the Border Rugby Referees Society in 1962, Mr Bryson was widely respected in rugby circles
throughout the country.
“Billy was the face of the society for 30 years or more,” said Bill Calder, a former chairman of the Border Referees
Society. “As the organisation’s appointments secretary, he acted as the interface between clubs and referees and
did sterling work.
“He was in every sense the society’s ambassador during that time. He also had a very successful track record when
it came to negotiating with sponsors, greatly helping to improve the lot of all Border rugby referees.”
As well as playing a pivotal role in ensuring the region’s refereeing requirements were met, Billy served for many
years on Selkirk Rugby Club’s general committee, and for a time was its fixtures secretary.
“Billy will be a big miss at Philiphaugh,” said Selkirk RFC chairman Dennis Henderson, “and was always willing
to lend a hand, no matter how onerous the task.”
Mr Bryson was born in Selkirk on September 19, 1936, to Thomas Bryson, who worked as a weaver in a local mill,
and his wife Grace. He had an older sister, Charlotte, and a younger brother, Douglas.
Billy attended Philiphaugh Primary and then Selkirk High School, and on leaving enrolled as an apprentice with
local painter Willie Nichol. He then joined the Selkirk painting and decorating firm of Heatlie & Scott, and
later worked with Melrose-based firm Michael Vee Design.
From 1957-59 Billy undertook his National Service, serving as a Corporal with the Cameronians in the regiment’s
motor transport platoon. His tours of duty took him to both Kenya and Oman.
In 1960, shortly after returning to the Borders, Mr Bryson married Irene Todd, who hailed from Galashiels. The
couple were blessed with a daughter, Susan, born in 1962.
After graduating from Bath University with a BSc in pharmacology, Susan gained a PhD in the same subject at the
University of Strathclyde, rising to become executive director and global head of medical writing, with drug development
Mr Bryson was extremely proud of Susan’s son Craig, his grandson, who after qualifying as a doctor now works in
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
In retirement Billy became a keen golfer, taking out a membership at The Woll Golf Club, Ashkirk. There he enjoyed
playing with a regular group of friends, as well as organising numerous competitions.
After suffering a small stroke in 2016, the following year Mr Bryson moved into Mungo Park Court in Selkirk, later
transferring to Galashiels Nursing Home.
Mr Bryson, who was predeceased by his wife Irene in 1991, will be interred at Selkirk’s Shawpark Cemetery on Thursday,
January 21, at 1.30pm. His cortège will pass along Selkirk High Street before arriving at the cemetery.
Friends wishing to attend the graveside service are respectfully asked to contact Susan (email address email@example.com)
Selkirk Rugby Club wishes to extend its condolences to Susan and the family. J.D.R.S.
Obituary, Mr Graham
FOLLOWING a lifetime in the painting and decorating business, it would be fair to say that Graham Scott brought
colour into the lives of everyone he knew.
A Souter born and bred, Mr Scott died peacefully at his Hillside Terrace home on Sunday, January 10. He was 87.
Graham Scott was born in Selkirk’s Kilncroft on April 12, 1933, to Robert Scott and his wife Jean (whose family
name was also Scott). The couple had four other children – Bert, Tom, Margaret and Betty.
Educated at Knowepark Primary and Selkirk High School, Graham left school at the age of 14 to begin an apprenticeship
with Towns the painters, whose proprietor at that time was Bill Morrison.
In 1964 Mr Scott left Towns to set up his own painting and decorating business in partnership with Andrew Heatlie.
The firm of Heatlie & Scott went on to prove a highly successful enterprise, expanding to employ several painters
in its heyday.
Tall and with a strapping physique, Graham proved to be a skilful rugby player in his younger days. After turning
out for the High School and for Selkirk Youth Club, he moved up to Philiphaugh and quickly established himself
in the Selkirk 1st XV in the position of second row.
He liked to tell the story of packing down behind Selkirk’s legendary prop forward George Downie, who in 1953 had
captained the club to its only Scottish Championship title. “Don’t worry about pushing,” George told Graham at
the first scrum, “no-one’s going to move me!”
Graham’s team-mates at that time included Les Walker, Dougie Scott, Bill Young, Tom Kellett and Willie Thyne –
all of whom remained lifelong friends. Without fail, Willie Thyne would call Graham every Friday night to discuss
rugby and the weekend’s matches.
Mr Scott remained a passionate supporter of Selkirk Rugby Club throughout his life. Former Selkirk captain Paul
Tomlinson joined Heatlie & Scott as a 15-year-old apprentice, and remembers Graham as a friendly and caring
“When I was 17, Graham told me that one of the props had dropped out of Selkirk’s team for the match against Carlisle,
and the club wanted me to step in. I had never played at that level and didn’t have the proper kit, so Graham kindly
went out and bought me a pair of new rugby boots and some shorts - a kindness I’ve never forgotten.”
Graham undertook his National Service with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, but after injuring his leg playing
rugby with the KOSB, he served with the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). Among his postings was to the Bergen-Hohne
Garrison in Germany, close by the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Graham met his future wife Carolyn Bell, who hails from Galashiels, in 1959 at a dance in the town’s Volunteer
Hall (the ‘Gala Palais’). They were married on October 13, 1962, in St Paul’s Church, Galashiels, and set up home
in a property at Sunderland Hall.
The couple had two sons, David, who died in 1999, and James, who is a building surveyor.
Mr Scott was a keen horseman and during his single days rode the marches at Selkirk Common Riding on a few occasions
and remained a passionate supporter. He was also an avid follower of horse-racing and would often have a flutter
at the local bookmakers.
Mr Scott is survived by his wife Carolyn, son James, daughter-in-law Susan and grandchildren Alice & Jack,
to whom the deepest condolences are extended.
A private funeral service will be held at the Borders Crematorium, Melrose, on Wednesday, January 20, at 12 noon.
Obituary, Mr Ronnie
Ronnie Darling pictured
with Jennifer, Keith, Neil and grandson Cameron (Keith’s son) after Neil had captained Selkirk to the 2008 Selkirk
Sevens title. [Photo – GRANT KINGHRON PICS]
A SPECIAL affinity with nature, animals and the countryside stayed with Ronnie Darling all his life. So it is perhaps
no surprise he went on to become one of the local farming community’s most respected shepherds.
His sudden death on December 29, at the age of 68, has robbed the Borders of a much-loved character - a man whose
integrity, friendliness and sense of loyalty touched the lives of everyone lucky enough to know him.
Ronnie had three passions in life - his love for his family, an unshakable enthusiasm for sport, and the care and
dedication he showed to livestock and animals.
The youngest of six children, Ronald Begbie Darling was born on April 22, 1952, and raised by Harry and Jessie.
Harry worked at Darlingfield Farm, near Gordon, while Jessie looked after Ronnie and his older siblings - Susie,
Dave, Doddie, Jake and Hen.
When Ronnie was five the family moved to nearby Mellerstain, where Harry had taken up a position as the estate’s
Ronnie attended Mellerstain School and then spent a year at Berwickshire High, before moving to Denholm School
when his father became gamekeeper for Major Sprott at Riddell, near Lilliesleaf.
On leaving school, Ronnie began working as a farm hand on the Riddell Estate. For a short while he was employed
by Kings the road contractors, before he undertook a spell of forestry work with Tom Wilson of Lilliesleaf.
In 1972 Ronnie returned to his old job at Riddell, and while out one night in the Talisman Bar, Galashiels, met
Jennifer Keddie, who at that time was working in the town’s Royal Bank of Scotland branch.
They became engaged three months later, and were married in St Peter’s Church, Galashiels, in February, 1975. The
newly-weds began their life together at Vineyard Cottage, near Lilliesleaf, with Ronnie having been appointed shepherd
The couple’s two sons, Keith and Neil, were born in 1980 and 1983 respectively, and the family moved to Riddell
Cottage in 1990 after Ronnie became Riddell Estate’s head shepherd.
Ronnie was never happier than when tending his beloved Texel flock, with Neil more often than not on hand to assist
his father in preparing stock for the sales and local shows.
Well-known local Texel breeder Gordon Gray, of Sunnycroft, was full of admiration for Ronnie Darling’s stockmanship.
“Ronnie always liked to sell his tups as natural as possible,” said Gordon, “and he had a very loyal customer base
at the Kelso Ram Sales.
“I well remember how delighted he was a few years back to get his rams moved into the Texel No. 1 ring at Kelso.
He was a great stockman and well deserved all the plaudits that came his way over the years.”
Ronnie’s talents were not confined to the field of agriculture, however. A highly talented footballer, Ronnie had
spells with Vale of Leithen, Hawick Royal Albert, Selkirk, Earlston Rhymers and Lilliesleaf, as well as regularly
picking up silverware on the green bowls and carpet bowling circuits.
Never one to boast of his sporting achievements, he was particularly proud to have played for Vale of Leithen against
a strong Montrose team in the Scottish Cup, and during his time with Selkirk faced a St Mirren side managed by
a young Alex Ferguson.
Another highlight came when, as coach of the Lilliesleaf under-14 team, he helped the boys win the Gala fives tournament
from an initial entry of 72 sides. A member of the team that day was Rob Munro, who reckons Ronnie was one of the
best football players Lilliesleaf ever produced.
“He was a tremendous footballer back in the day,” said Rob, “and also a very successful coach. We all looked up
to him, and you’d be hard pushed to meet a more genuine or a more modest individual than Ronnie. Everybody liked
Both sons inherited their father’s sporting talents - Keith going on to captain Selkirk’s football team, while
Neil was appointed Selkirk Rugby Club’s 1st XV skipper (each leading their respective clubs to league titles and
Ronnie and Jennifer made sure one or other of them would be there to watch Keith and Neil turn out for their respective
clubs each Saturday. Jennifer was usually to be found at Philiphaugh, however, where for many seasons she served
as Selkirk Rugby Club’s catering convener.
The arrival of grandchildren gave Ronnie and Jennifer enormous pleasure. Ronnie’s devotion to them was total, passing
on to them his innate love of nature and his duty of care for animals, and he always made time to walk the dogs
with Neil’s boys every evening, no matter what the weather.
Ronnie was laid to rest on Thursday, January 14, at the Hundy Mundy woodland, near Mellerstain, set in the rolling
countryside where he had spent so many happy hours during his childhood. As the cortege passed through Lilliesleaf
and Earlston, friends lined the route to pay their last respects.
At the graveside service, a heartfelt tribute to their father was given by Neil, before a poem written in recognition
of Ronnie’s love of collies by family friend and poet, Don Ledingham, was read aloud by Keith.
Ronnie is survived by his wife Jennifer, sons Keith and Neil, daughter-in-law Karole and grandsons Cameron, Archie
and Sam, to whom the deepest condolences are extended. J. D. R. S.