september 27, 2011 was a truly sad day for Berwickshire, when news filtered round of the sudden death of Alice Robertson. Alice was a dedicated, inspirational, and generous person in all aspects of her life, with a wealth of local knowledge. She knew everyone, and everyone knew her, so it was testament to her, that came as no surprise, that Foulden Kirk was packed, and many more were standing outside for her Thanksgiving Service on October 14, 2011.
Alice’s tribute was read by the Rev Norman Whyte and much of what follows is from this.
“I have always thought that it must be difficult for the Minister to have to visit relatives to find out about a person who has died – so always being different (as you all know) I have written this about myself. I was born the second of February 1931 on a very snowy day at Berrington Law. What a wonderful childhood I had, great days walking to Ancroft School, happy carefree days. Bowsden School was next with evacuees from Tyneside, as this was wartime. 1942 found us at Town Farm, Scremerston and school there.”
From there Alice went to St. Mary’s Convent and after gaining her School Certificate and Highers, left school, too young for college. She carried on, “In September 1948 I began an emergency training at Mount Road School staying there until December when I went to teach full time at Duddo School. My first three months were UNPAID, because I was not 18.” Alice then spent two years at Alnwick Castle College 1952 – 54, then back to Duddo till 1955. By this time she was engaged to Tommy Robertson of Chirnside and she applied for a job in Berwickshire and was given the choice of Chirnside or Foulden. Alice says, “and I chose Foulden, thank goodness, and began on January 3, 1956”.
Alice and Tommy were married and set up home in Chirnside. In November 1970 she was given the headship of Foulden Primary School. Alice goes on to say “and I was proud to be given charge of educating the bairns. The next 18 years were wonderful, I was proud of every child, not one ever let me down. London visits, Blankenburgh with the teenagers, ceildhs, bothy nights, parties old and young, projects for the NFU, the Highland Show, oh what fun we had. Yes kids you were the best.”
One of the highlights of these 18 years was the visit of HRH Princess Margaret in 1971. Of retirement, Alice said, “1988 brought early retirement – what is retirement, I was never so busy.” Her former pupils were never forgotten with landmark birthdays, engagements and weddings remembered. Alice could even turn her hand to composing very clever, even thoughtful poems for all sorts of occasions.
Alice Robertson was awarded the MBE at a ceremony at Holyrood Palace in July 1978. After she retired Foulden still featured largely in her life and she lists, “Kirk Elder, Foulden Hall Committee [chair] – New Hall too, who would believe little Foulden could do it – but we did.” Sometime chairman, Chirnside Horticultural Society, president Chirnside Bowling Club 1975, and she wrote, “kept my hand in at Heatherslaw Railway Society”. She was very proud of her stick dressing prowess and the camaraderie of “the men folk [at it].” Alice ended with, “No doubt many of you will have other memories – well we did have some super times. Thank you all for everything, keep smiling, laugh and have fun, but don’t shed a tear for me for I was a very, very lucky person and DIFFERENT.”
Our thoughts are with her sister Anne, brother-in-law Bob, niece Marilyn and Terry.