Lady Judith Swinton

Lady Judith Swinton
Lady Judith Swinton

JUDY Swinton died at home at Kimmerghame, after a short illness, on October 24. Her funeral was held at Melrose Crematorium on November 2. It was a measure of her popularity and the great respect in which she was held, that over 400 people crammed into the chapel.

She was born on February 10, 1929 in Australia. She was the daughter of a grazier on a large sheep station at Merribee N.S.W. She met John Swinton while he was serving as Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General of Australia. By chance it was to prove that she had impeccable connections to Berwickshire – her great grandfather, Professor John Hutton Balfour, had been a president of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club in 1878, and was a contemporary of John’s own great-grandfather. John and Judy were married in Sydney on August 26, 1954. She returned to England when John finished his tour of duty, and became an army wife, following him on his various postings in the United Kingdom and Germany. This meant frequent moves and many different houses, culminating in 1976, when John was appointed GOC London District and Major-General Commanding the Household Division. Judy managed to juggle the commitments of family life and John’s official duties apparently effortlessly. At the end of his time in London John was appointed KCVO, which he would be first to admit was a just reward for Judy, as well as himself.

When John retired from the army in 1979, they were able to make a proper home at Kimmerghame, where the family grew up, and they both played an increasing part in public life in the county. On the retirement of Sir William Swan, John was appointed Lord Lieutenant, with all the additional duties and entertainment that entailed. Judy supported him as hostess, driver and remembrancer in his many public duties within the county and nationally. Throughout they remained proud and supportive parents and grandparents. Their grandchildren were a great joy to them both.

This outline of her life cannot take account of her kindness, sense of humour and joie-de-vivre. Everyone who knew her will have many happy memories of her; presiding at the head of the table at Kimmerghame; producing an endless supply of delicious meals; organising and calming everyone at the annual garden opening in aid of Swinton Kirk; or just being there with a sympathetic ear and a ready smile.

She loved her family, Kimmerghame, the highlands and fishing.

She was fishing on the Laxford River as recently as June of this year. The annual expedition to Colonsay was a highlight of the year.

A few lines in an obituary cannot do justice to a long life, well lived. Suffice it to say that we are all the poorer for her passing and we will miss her.

S.J.F.