Rev. Tom Nicholson retires to Orkney after 25 years in the Borders

The minister for the linked parishes of Gordon, Greenlaw, Legerwood & Westruther is retiring and returning to his family farm.

By Kevin McRoberts
Friday, 24th July 2020, 7:00 am
Rev. Tom Nicholson is presented with a cheque by Session Clerk Carol Trotter on behalf of grateful parishioners.
Rev. Tom Nicholson is presented with a cheque by Session Clerk Carol Trotter on behalf of grateful parishioners.

The much-loved and respected Rev. Tom Nicholson, who has served at the churches for 25 years, is heading back to the farm on South Ronaldsay, overlooking the Pentland Firth.

His early days in the Presbyterian church took him to Canada – his wife Jane is Canadian – before cutting his teeth at a parish in East Kilbride in 1980.

In 1982, after being ordained, the lure of the real East – he had always been fascinated by Chinese culture – took him and Jane to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, which was not then the democratic country it is today.

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Rev. Tom Nicholson is presented with paintings of the church and Greenlaw.

They and their three children became well immersed until they had to return to Scotland for their secondary education in the early 1990s.

Tom retired officially at the end of April, but due to the Covid-19 virus he has been unable to get away.

Equally, his parishioners have been unable to mark his departure in the way they would like with a farewell party and a presentation.

He has also been conducting funerals since then but will do no more after tomorrow (Friday, July 24).

Last week, at Greenlaw Churchyard on a pleasant sunny morning, a large crowd of well-wishers saw Tom presented with a cheque by Session Clerk Carol Trotter, raised from the grateful parishioners of Greenlaw.

He was also gifted a painting of the church, by local artist Dr June Bell, and an oil painting of Greenlaw from Catmoss by another local artist, Margaret Paxton.

Tom has served the four parishes with dedication, diligence, loyalty and great spirituality.

He has been an inspiration and a rock; a great friend to many especially in times of trouble and a steadying hand on the tiller.

There have been many changes over these years and he has helped and encouraged individually and collectively to steer the parishes through these changes and to help chart the way for the many challenges that lie ahead.

Sadly, Westruther church will soon be closing but Tom leaves his parishes in good heart, full of hope and anticipation that they will be able to rise to the challenges.

At present, there are no plans to replace his ministry with a resident minister.

The parishes will be supported by Rev Dr. Dane Sherrard, himself a retired minister and incumbent at Fogo Church.

It is now down to the parishioners of these parishes to become largely responsible for running services themselves.

Greenlaw Church hopes to reopen for services from August 30 as restrictions are eased.

Everyone assotiated with the parishes of Gordon, Greenlaw, Legerwood & Westruther wish Tom and Jane a blessed, long and well-earned retirement.