one of Coldstream’s finest ambassadors across the Borders was honoured at the weekend, when Jim Leifer was presented with the Brown Scott Quaich, given annually to a local resident who has gone above and beyond for the town.
Every common riding in the Borders has been visited by Jim in his capacity as chairman of Presenting Coldstream over 20 years, and in the Borders festivals circle no one is better respected or loved for their natural warmth and friendly nature than Jim. For the past two or three years Jim has been indicating that as far as being chairman is concerned he was contemplating going into retirement and after last year’s Coldstream Civic Week he finally took the plunge and stood down at the committee’s AGM.
With six grandchildren, two of them very new additions, Jim is now, quite rightly, wanting to spend more time with his family and Coldstream Community Council unanimously agreed that it was time to recognise the extraordinary contribution he has made to the town, chairman Martin Brims describing it as “a privilege to be able to honour the hard work and dedication” when he presented Jim with the Coldstream Citizen of the Year Award.
Unsuspecting Jim was slightly surprised to see all three sons and their families suddenly arrive at the Presenting Coldstream coffee morning in the town’s British Legion hall on Saturday morning, January 29 - “I thought they were after money for the bakers,” said Jim afterwards.
When community council chairman Martin Brims took to the stage and announced that he was going to be making the Coldstream Citizen of the Year award the penny still did not drop, and even when Martin went on to drop a few hints as to who the recipient was, describing them as “cheery, mischievous, selfless and dependable” he still had no clue.
It wasn’t until Martin went on to say: “A little known “fact” is that there is a tree on a hill, not far from Coldstream, which was planted especially to mark their birthday, or so they would have some believe,” that Jim realised he was talking about his own tall tale about a tree on the ride to Flodden, and that it was him that was being honoured.
Martin said of Jim; “Born a Pail Merk – or in Galashiels for anyone unfamiliar with Border slang – but regardless of birthplace his heart and soul belongs to Coldstream.”
“A keen sportsman - whose passions include cricket, football, and more lately swimming, but this isn’t the limit of his sporting prowess, given the opportunity, he isn’t afraid to try his hand at any sport.
“In fact for a period of 33 years he was an enthusiastic runner – often seen speeding through the town at all hours of the day and night, sprinting down Market Street to reach the fire station before the engine left. His selfless dedication to the fire service is reflected in him being awarded the Fire Brigade’s long service medal.
“But it is perhaps on the football park where Jim is better known, playing for the local team and whilst doing so, at the tender age of 17, gaining the distinction of being the youngest player to appear in the King Cup.
“After hanging up his playing boots the poacher became gamekeeper – when Jim started dressing in black and it became his turn to issue yellow and red cards instead of receiving them.
“A proud father and grandfather - it is obvious that he is immensely happy with his ever-growing family and what with three sons and six grandchildren, two of whom being recent additions, most of his time will now be spent with his new hobby, babysitting, as well as continuing to provide much appreciated love and support to all his family.
“Jim seems to have an inexhaustible willingness to help others, no matter what the circumstances, whether that is helping out at various functions or providing a helping hand to anyone in need. Nothing is too much trouble.
“He is a hard working, dedicated club and committee member, which includes service to the football club, the Burns club and the Royal British Legion to name but a few. It is fair to say that these bodies would be much the poorer without his efforts over the many, many years.
“However, it is not coincidental that I am presenting this award at a coffee morning in aid of Presenting Coldstream, because over the decades he has developed a very close relationship with civic week and has the honour of being the 1974 Coldstreamer.
“Since then he has been chairman of Presenting Coldstream on no less than three occasions – serving for around 20 years in that capacity. During that time he has attended every common riding and festival throughout the Borders and beyond, and must be one of the best “kent” faces on the summer festival circuit.
“Consequently, he has made many lifelong friendships and provided many of our younger Coldstreamers with invaluable support and advice.
“He is a wonderful ambassador for Coldstream and I know that Coldstream is very dear to him.”
“On behalf of Coldstream Community Council and the people of Coldstream, I am delighted to present this year’s Citizen of the Year Award to Jim Leifer.”
Despite the sudden turn of events at what he thought was a normal Saturday coffee morning in Coldstream Jim quickly regained his composure to say how honoured he felt and how he was aware that he was following other very worthy recipients.
Citizen of the year: Jim Leifer is presented with the Brown Scott Quaich by Martin Brims, Coldstream Community Council chairman.