Coldstream centenarian’s amazing photography career spans 60 years

One hundred year old Douglas Gibson of Coldstream celebrates his century and received a card from HRH presented to him by Andrew Douglas Hume. Douglas' famliy were helping him celebrate his birthday at his home in Coldstream.

One hundred year old Douglas Gibson of Coldstream celebrates his century and received a card from HRH presented to him by Andrew Douglas Hume. Douglas' famliy were helping him celebrate his birthday at his home in Coldstream.

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A COLDSTREAM war veteran who documented the life and times of the region with photographs has received a card from the Queen on the occasion of his 100th birthday.

George Douglas Gibson, known locally as Douglas, was presented with the card by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire at a special family celebration on Sunday.

Stella Stern, Douglas’s daughter, said her father was absolutely delighted to receive his card.

“He was so proud to receive his card from the Queen and loved having all his family there on the day, along with some of his neighbours,” she said.

Stella told The Berwickshire News that the presentation was extra-special because of a historical connection between her father and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, Andrew Douglas Home, who presented him with the card.

“My dad’s brother-in-law was called Jimmy Hall and he was the chauffeur to Sir Alex Douglas Home who was Andrew’s uncle,” she explained.

Old coldstream by George Douglas Gibson.

Old coldstream by George Douglas Gibson.

In a photographic career spanning nearly 60 years, Douglas documented Berwickshire, from everyday happenings to major events. His photographs paint a fascinating picture of the region and provide a unique insight into its history.

Berwickshire born and bred, and the youngest of five children, Douglas was born in Coldstream on February 6, 1911, sharing a birthday with 40th US president Ronald Reagan.

His father, George Wright Gibson, had a photographic and picture framing business on the High Street and Douglas joined the business when he left school at 18.

He joined the RAF in 1939 and served in the Second World War, using his photographic experience to take reconnaissance photographs behind enemy lines. Most of his time during the war was spent in the Middle East.

“My dad has lots of stories from the Second World War but to be honest I can’t recall them all,” Stella admitted.

“I do know that he was posted to Aden in the Middle East and travelled on the Queen Mary. On the ship he met a friend from Coldstream, Jimmy Gardner, who had enlisted with the Coldstream Guards. They were both very apprehensive as the ship was so large and was a prime target for torpedoes.”

Despite these anxieties, Douglas thoroughly enjoyed his time in the RAF and would have liked to stay on after the war if he had not had to come back to work in the family business.

He met Stella’s mother Jean in the 1950s and they married in 1956 at Branxton. Their first child, Rosemary, was born in 1957, followed by Stella in 1960.

Douglas continued to work as a photographer and picture framer until he retired in 1987 at the age of 76.

He took photographs all over the Borders, and in particular photographs of Coldstream Civic Week and the Coldstream Guards whenever they visited the town.

He also took photographs of the Great Flood of 1948, when torrential storms on August that year caused severe flooding right across the Borders, and the Queen’s visit to Coldstream in 1963.

But of all his photographic work, Douglas is particularly proud of the work he did with global company Jus-Rol.

“He took the photographs that were on the very first frozen pastry packets when Jus-Rol first opened in Berwick,” Stella explained. “The photographs were taken at his studio on the High Street and this is also where he took photographs of each one of the Coldstreamers from when Civic Week started until he retired.”

Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, Andrew Douglas Home, said: “The Lord Lieutenant is away so I was deputising.

“It was a great honour to present Douglas with his card from the Queen. I was absolutely thrilled to do it, he’s an amazing man.”