Duns residents sing the praises of locum minister

Duns Citizen of the Year Donald Gaddes in the Parish Church where he has been the stand in minister for two years
Duns Citizen of the Year Donald Gaddes in the Parish Church where he has been the stand in minister for two years

“THERE must be far more deserving people in the town,” were the words uttered by Donald Gaddes minutes before he was named Duns Citizen of the Year last week at a ceremony hosted by Duns Rotary Club.

Donald was seen as an ideal candidate for the award after going over and above what is expected for a locum minister when he stepped into fill the vacancy left by Reverend Andrew Morrice when he left in December 2009.

He might not be Duns born and bred, but in the last three years he has given a commitment to the role which many in the town will remember for a lifetime.

Donald retired to the town in 1994 after a very long and successful ministry in Kelso but he certainly hasn’t been taking things easy of late.

As well as bringing together many couples together in holy matrimony and christening many youngsters, Donald has also taken it upon himself to visit sick parishioners in hospital and at home, attend nearly every meeting of groups who meet at the church and even lend his vocals to the church choir! All this despite being well in his 80s.

And Duns’ gratitude to Donald extends beyond the church: he has also worked hard as a board member of Berwickshire Association of Voluntary Services and been involved with the Berwickshire Furniture Restoration Company.

But in spite of everything he’s done for Duns, Donald said he was left dumbstruck when he received a phone call from Rotary President Robert Lamont to say he’d been chosen as the Citizen of the Year for 2012.

“I can honestly say I’m still in a state of shock about the whole thing,” he told ‘The Berwickshire News’ before tucking into the dinner given in his honour at The White Swan Hotel.

“I feel very humbled; I can’t think of anything particularly special I’ve done in my time here. There are a number of people who I think deserve this award more than me. I think it helps that as a minister you do tend to get involved in an awful lot of things!”

An awful lot of things would in fact be something of an understatement and one of Donald’s nominators, parishioner Rhona Burchick, said he was “an inspiration to everyone.”

“I don’t know him as a friend, just from the pews but he has been the most wonderful man in his time as locum minister..

“He has done far more than just turn up every Sunday and he is a real inspiration to everyone in the town.”

Another Duns resident keen to sing Donald’s praises is session clerk Peter Johnson who said he was asked to nominate Donald for Citizen of the Year on behalf of a number of his congregation.

“The appointment of a new minister was further delayed when the General Assembly decreed that the old Presbytery Plans across Scotland should be abandoned, and new ones put in place, with vacancies put on hold until this was done.

“In all we’ve had a period of almost two and a half years years of uncertainty, during which both the congregation and the community in general have had the almost full-time services of a minister who was supposed to be appointed for two days per week of duty, carried out with a vigour which belies his years.”