Childhood sweethearts Doug and Joyce die within days of each other

Ada Joyce Gotterson and Walter Douglas Gotterson.
Ada Joyce Gotterson and Walter Douglas Gotterson.

The Eckford community was greatly saddened by the deaths, just before Christmas, of two of our most senior citizens, Doug and Joyce Gotterson

Doug was born and grew up in Swinton. He attended school in Swinton and Coldstream and started his working life as an apprentice plumber in Duns.

He thoroughly enjoyed his period of National Service with the KOSBs, initially in the barracks at Berwick and in overseas postings in Berlin and Malaya and the experience provided a fund of stories.

He told of his time in Berlin and doing guard duty at Spandau Prison guarding Rudolf Hess. The verdict of a young laddie from Swinton – ‘it was gie eerie’.

After National Service he worked for a time on the farm at Swinton Quarter then as a forester/farmworker on the Charterhall Estate.

Joyce was born at Castleloan Toll, near Greenlaw, and grew up at a number of other farms in Berwickshire where her father worked. She attended schools in Hume, Swinton and Coldstream before going up to the Berwickshire High School.

She worked for firms in Berwick, Hawick and Jedburgh before taking up a post in Taits Solicitors in Kelso. She worked there until all her children were in employment.

Joyce was a wonderful knitter and you would never see her without her knitting needles, producing beautiful garments for one or other of her grandchildren. It pained her greatly that changing fashions meant that, as they grew older it was not ‘cool’ to be seen wearing knitted garments.

Possibly as a result of her training at Taits, Joyce was a skilled financial manager and this was an area where she was the undoubted boss – managing the family finances and also ensuring that the boys, when they started to earn, used their money wisely.

They were childhood sweethearts – Joyce claiming that she held his hand when taking him to his first day at Swinton Primary School. They were married in 1958 and their four children were born in Berwickshire. They have 12 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.

Doug moved to Eckford in 1966 to work as a forester and fencer firstly with Willie Laurie then with Ian Robinson on the Eckford part of Buccleuch Estates. In 1994, because of changes in the Estate, Doug was transferred to work at Bowhill and they moved to Middlesteads but there was great delight when, on retirement some eight years ago, they came back to their old house in Eckford and took up just where they had left off.

Doug and Joyce were keen readers, avid supporters of the Mobile Library and collectors of interesting old books that other people would throw away.

Thursday was a favourite day because that was when the Southern and the Berwickshire came out. Doug claimed that it could take the whole day to read them both.

Doug was one of that generation of country people who had a vast store of knowledge – some of it from books but much of it obtained by listening carefully to others. Through this he could describe events in the story of Eckford going back long before his time. In this way he was one of our last oral history tradition bearers.

Joyce was skilled in this too and she checked the accuracy of his stories carefully – particularly with reference to Berwickshire where he acknowledged her as the expert.

They were both very proud of their Berwickshire roots and never lost their interest in Swinton – hence the avid reading of the Berwickshire News. In recent years Joyce suffered from Alzheimers and, as her illness progressed, she thought more and more of her early years and a favourite outing for the two of them was to the village of Hume where she first went to primary school. She was always comforted by a visit there.

They were married for 56 years and were only separated during Doug’s National Service and for the last nine months when Joyce went into care in Lennel House.

Doug missed her terribly and, on his regular visits, he was greatly upset when he noted her health worsening. Undoubtedly this had an effect on his own health.

His own final illness was quite short and they died within three days of each other.