A recently-retired river guardian from Drygrange, who has dedicated his life to protecting the river Tweed, has been chosen as the winner of the 2018 Tweed Forum River Champion Award.
Eric Hastings (69), is the third recipient of the award which was introduced in 2016 and won for the first time by Coldstream’s Frank Turnbull.
The accolade rewards an individual from the Borders or north Northumberland, from any walk of life, who has an outstanding commitment to the protection and enhancement of the River Tweed and the natural, built and cultural heritage of its surroundings.
From tracking and catching poachers and regulating rod fishing to carrying out fish monitoring surveys and dealing with pollution incidents, invasive plant species, illegal engineering works and obstructions in the water, Eric has enjoyed a 41 year career at the River Tweed Commission that has seen him develop an encyclopaedic knowledge of the river and rise to the rank of chief inspector and superintendent.
Following in the footsteps of his father, who was a river bailiff for 45 years, Eric has developed an unrivalled knowledge of the Tweed and its tributaries the Till, Whiteadder, Teviot, Ettrick and Yarrow, which he has frequently navigated at speed, often in the dark.
While poaching incidents have reduced dramatically in recent years, vigilance is still required and this, together with the fish stock monitoring work and habitat improvements that are carried out on the river are vital to ensure the future of one of the most important industries in the Borders and north Northumberland.
Tweed Forum chairman, James Hepburne Scott presented Eric Hastings with the specially commissioned glass trophy by Scottish artist Jane Raven.
Mr Hepburn Scott said: “Eric has made an outstanding contribution to the protection of the River Tweed and has helped to further vital scientific and habitat improvement programmes. Few can claim a more intimate knowledge of the river and its tributaries, and few have spent such a large part of their lives working for its benefit. Eric is a truly worthy Tweed Forum River Champion.”
Eric Hastings responded: “The news of this award came as a bit of a shock but I’m very honoured to be receiving this accolade. I’ve greatly enjoyed my many years working on the river and love every part of it, from the headwaters right to the coast. I’m proud that I’ve been able to play a part in the protection of the river for future generations.”