Elspeth Bell, MBE and citizen of the year

Coldstream Community Council Chairman, Martin Brims presented the Brown - Scott Quaich to Elspeth Bell this years recipient for the citizen of the year.
Coldstream Community Council Chairman, Martin Brims presented the Brown - Scott Quaich to Elspeth Bell this years recipient for the citizen of the year.

INSPIRATIONAL, committed, tireless and tenacious - four words that perfectly describe Coldstream’s citizen of the year, Elspeth Bell.

The late Alistair Brown Scott was very much a Coldstream community man, involved in the community council, pipe band and many other organisations over the years and he would definitely have approved of this year’s choice for the Brown Scott Quaich he gifted to the town to recognise a person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to playing a role in the community. He would also have appreciated that the presentation was made at a Coldstream Pipe Band Concert, as he played in the band for many years alongside Elspeth’s husband Rob, who was standing down as pipe major of the band that same evening.

The annual presentation of the Brown Scott Quaich is made by Coldstream & District Community Council and in doing the honours at the weekend, chairman Martin Brims said: “This isn’t the first award that this year’s Citizen of the Year has received.

“It was with particular recognition of their activities in both Cornhill and Coldstream that a very high honour indeed was bestowed upon them, and that was becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire. I hope our smaller honour will be equally appreciated - it is certainly very well deserved.

“On behalf of the community council and the people of Coldstream, I am delighted to present this year’s Citizen of the Year Award to Elspeth Bell. MBE.”

A very surprised Elspeth replied: “It doesn’t happen very often but I’m absolutely lost for words. Being presented with this means as much to me, if not more, as the MBE.

“This year’s recipient can be described as inspirational, committed, seemingly tireless and tenacious,” said Martin, before revealing Elspeth as this year’s winner of the award. “These very qualities are shown time and time again, making them worthy winners of the award.”

“It is impossible to single out any one thing as they all represent the selfless contribution that this year’s winner has made to the community, but given where we are this evening, I think it is appropriate that I make particular reference to, and recognise all the hard work and efforts that they have put into the creation and running of this splendid community centre.

“You would think that a full working life, a busy family life (which now includes five grandchildren) and an active social life would be more than enough for most folk. But as you will soon learn they are not “most folk”.”

A member of the Maxwell family at Cramond Hill, Elspeth initially worked with Kelso Town Council before re-training as a nurse. From there she moved into retail and built up and successfully ran Cornhill village shop for many years.

The list of community organisations Elspeth has been an active member of includes: the Cornhill Women’s Institute, and its concert party; chief motivator behind the restoration of Cornhill Village Hall; the WRVS; committee member and chair of the Coldstream Riders’ Association; Coldstream Twinning Committee; the committee of the Macmillan Nurses; Coldstream Community Centre management committee. A list that gives a flavour of Elspeth’s community work but which is by no means complete.

If there’s fund raising to do then who else could organise it better then Elspeth - be it a grand auction, bingo night, whist drive, coffee morning or concert.

Her latest project is as a member of the team creating a wall hanging for Coldstream Community Centre’s Tweed Room, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden - something that will remain in the town for decades, if not centuries to come as a reminder of the community spirit of people like Elspeth.