At the age of 20, Mandy Paterson went for a job at Duns Police Station thinking she had no chance. Fast forward 30 years, and she’s clocking out for the last time today.
It was an advert in ‘The Berwickshire News’ back in 1984 that set the ball rolling for Mandy and after being told by her interviewer, the late Chief Superintendent Harry Gilmore that she ‘talked her way into the job’, the Duns lassie was soon in the thick of the action at the station in Newtown Street.
That’s where she’s stayed for the past three decades, manning the front desk on her own for more than half of her service.
For many people Mandy is Duns Police Station, which will make it all the more of a wrench for her to be walking away from her position.
“I’m worried I’ll be not be able to adjust to not having my usual routine.” she commented.
“I’ve been working 9-5, Monday to Friday, for as long as I can remember now and I’ve hardly ever been off sick so I think not being here will take some getting used to.
“And of course I’ll miss the people. I’ve worked with some right characters over the years.”
Prior to getting the job at the police station, Mandy was working at Allied Grain but there was a phone call early on in her new career which made her realise what a different challenge she’d taken on.
“A man phoned the station telling me to give his name and address to an officer as he was going to shoot himself.
“Next thing I know I’m hearing a gun shot - it was awful.
“Dealing with something like that was just a bit different to working with corn.
“And then there was the time when a woman ran into the station with her husband saying she thought he was having a heart attack. I loosened his tie and checked his airways then drove them down to the hospital myself.
“You’ve got to use your initiative in a job like this.”
The phones at the police station don’t ring quite as often now that callers are directed to the Police Scotland 101 number and Mandy said she felt that with the streamlining of forces, she felt it was the right time to move on.
“I’ve had a slightly different role over the past year but I have noticed a big change. People were used to being able to ring the station direct - in fact there was a joke that I was never off the phone - but times have changed.
“In the days before Radio Borders and the Scottish Borders Council’s website people used to rely on us to find out about road closures etc if there’d been heavy snow.
“But now when they ring up they are told the number is no longer recognised.”
Never one to sit around doing nothing, Mandy is only having a four day hiatus from working before she starts her new job at nearby Cafraemill Lodge where she will work in administration and hospitality.
The position was never actually advertised but Mandy was asked by owners, the Sutherland family to work for them.
Mandy said, whilst sad to step away from the police station’s front desk, she was looking forward to a new challenge and the variety it should bring.
“People have said to me I’m mad for swapping 9-5 shifts for more anti-social hours but I’m looking forward to doing a bit of socialising!
“This job has been fantastic though.
“I’ve never been petrified to come to work or anything like that and it’s become second nature.
“The past 30 years have gone by so quickly”!