Louise Renton from Duns took this photo of a juvenile buzzard having a breather at Bothwell Valley near Cranshaws. Louise said it’s mother was circling above.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PEACE AT LONG LAST - OR NOT?
I refer to the letter ‘Less Braveheart more brass tacks’ in the issue of Thursday, September 28.
In my letter of September 14 I was writing in response to Laurie Pettitt’s letter of August 31 refrerring to the 1650 Battle of Dunbar. I objected to him suggesting that Oliver Cromwell was a kind and gracious man. In order to avoid that this was not only my opinion, I did quote from various historians that also portrayed Cromwell as “a dictator. One of the most controversial figures in the history of the British isles. Genocidal behaviour towards Catholics in Scotland and Ireland”.
I note with much interest in last week’s Berwickshire News, a response to my letter from Christpher Green who perhaps rightly corrected me for suggesting that Cromwell was responsible for starving over 5,000 Scottish prisoners he had taken after the Battle of Dunbar.
I stand corrected. However, the fact sill remains that the 5,000 Scottish prisoners all died whilst being held prisoners of war by Cromwell and they most certainly did not die of old age. If we are to accept Laurie Pettitt’s figures it would have been 10,000 Scottish prisoners that died under Cromwell’s care.
Christopher Green then proceeds to inform us that most battles fought between Scotland and England were brutal and savage. Once more, I agree. However, being slaughtered during a pitched battle was acceptable.
Christopher then suggests that my presentation of Scottish history is simplistic and that Scottish establishments benefited proportionately more from the African slave trade than the English equivalent? What on earth has my simplicity and the African slave trade got to do with the Battle of Dunbar or Oliver Cromwell’s inhumanness towards prisoners?
Surely sophisticated Christopher has heard of David Livingstone, the Scottish pioneer and missionary and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th century who publicised the horrors of African slavery and secured the support to abolish it. Livingstone once quoted “I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne in England out of the will of God”.
However, what I will take Christopher Green to task about is his suggestion that I was portraying in my letter that Scotland was good and England was bad. That was never intended on my part. However, here are a few simplistic facts about treacherous (bad) English kings.
Since the Scottish Crown of the family of Malcolm III (1058-1286), English kings have considered Scottish kings as their vassals. They have continually schemed and plotted to conquer and rule Scotland.
In 1286 when Alexander III king of Scotland died, the only heir was Margaret, a four-year-old Norwegian princess, the child of his deceased daughter Margaret who had married Eric II king of Norway. The king of England, Edward I, immediately set about arranging a marriage between his two-year-old son and the four-year-old heir to the Scottish throne. His intention was that the future Edward II and his wife (heir to the throne of Scotland) would eventually rule both kingdoms, England and Scotland. However, the young Norwegian princess died on her journey from Norway to Scotland.
Now, in 1290 there were 13 contenders for the Scottish crown. Once more the king of England Edward I asserted his rights as feudal overlord and decided to choose who would be king of Scotland. He of course chose a quisling named John de Balliol. However, Edward’s devastating and humiliating treatment of the newly appointed king of Scotland, and his demands that Scottish barons do service in England’s war with France, was creating havoc in Scotland.
Scotland eventually rebelled and in 1295 formed a treaty with France against England. This prompted Edward I, in 1296, to invade Scotland. He began by massacring 95% of the population of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Then days later he plundered Stirling then Edinburgh.
King Balliol of Scotland and his court were taken prisoners, destined for the Tower of London, along with Scotland’s sacred stone (Stone of Scone). An English goverment was set up in Scotland.
Edward I was still not satisfied and made it a law that in any marriage that took place in this new Scotland, the bride had to spend her first night with the English baron in that area. He declared that if he could not defeat the defying Scots, he would breed them out. If Edward I had been successful all of Scotland would have been his slaves.
Scotland was humilated until 1297 when the first war of independence was launched by individuals like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Andrew de Moray. Many more wars of independence followed and now, at long last, we have peace and tolerance, or do we Christopher?
David Cassidy MBE
ACCESS ONLY TO WILLIS WYND
Could we remind drivers that using Willis Wynd in Duns is prohibited – except for access?
For people unsure about their Highway Code, this means unless you live, or are visiting/delivering at a property along there, you should not be using it.
A recent spate of ‘boy racers’ with modified cars have been using Willis Wynd as a racetrack at nights, which has been reported, but through the day there is a constant surge of illegal traffic.
The small number of residents living here are all affected by this due to the sheer speed, noise pollution and, most importantly, the hazard of the road being narrow – and being directly in front of our houses means a high risk of being hit. We have residents who are young, elderly and dog owners directly affected by cars racing past as they step outdoors, making it very dangerous.
We would appreciate it if people adhered to the prohibition signs, or risk a police fine, and, as residents, we will be forced to take matters further to prevent a serious accident occurring.
Willis Wynd resident
(name and address supplied)
RESENTFUL OVER PRIVATE PAYMENT
I was not surprised to see on your front page last week that landfill figures are still high.
Before the demise of the green bin collection, my black bin only needed emptying about once in two months.
Now, as instructed, I am putting some garden waste into this bin. As I have a large garden, I am having to pay a private collector to dispose of the rest. I feel very resentful about this.
I suspect many others are in this situation – hence your headline.
WOMEN’S FIGHT CONTINUES
Another year on and I am again setting off to join thousands of other 1950s-born WASPI women from across the country to demonstrate at the Tory party conference.
It is heartening that the all-party parliamentary group now has so many Tory MPs who are listening to us and are finally grasping the reality of the heartless injustice inflicted upon this group of women who had the misfortune to be born in the 1950s. Many have worked all their lives since the age of 15 and expected to get their pension at 60, as so many did before.
However, legislation was passed in 1995 to change this and bring women into line with men and retire at 65. WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) are not against the equality of men and women’s pension age and there would have been few problems with this if women had been told about the change and they could have prepared for it.
As it was, no letters were sent out for 14 years. These were sent to the first women who would be affected by the changes, but then the letters were stopped. Why? Because the government had seen what an easy target these women were and decided to save even more money by making things even harder for them by increasing the age still higher.
Letters to the women born from 1953 began to be sent out in 2013. I received my letter dated January 21, 2013, sometime in February, just 18 months before my 60th birthday informing me of the five years and 11 months increase to my State Pension Age (SPA).
I had retired from self-employment and closed my business of 11 years some two years earlier when my husband accepted early retirement and we had moved to the Borders.
There are thousands of women in dire circumstances through no fault of their own. Women who have worked hard all their lives and paid into the system all that was expected of them. Through various circumstances of ill health, bereavement, caring for sick and elderly family, divorce and redundancy, they now find themselves without any income.
Government minister Guy Opperman’s answer to this – they should retrain in suitable jobs and are eligible to apply for an apprenticeship!
This fiasco and unfairness of not even informing women about the changes is compounded by the actual timetable of the changes themselves. The 1995 changes were presented as a five-year increase in SPA gradually introduced over a 10-year period. With no further information, thousands of women, like myself, were led to believe that this would be a six- month increase year on year – wrong! Someone born in 1954, expecting to get their pension at 62, would in fact be well over 64. The further changes in 2011 added on another 18 months, making a total of six years.
We can help anyone who has not yet contacted their MP or made their complaint to the Department of Work and Pensions. Can I also urge everyone to sign the new petition launched last month by MP Grahame Morris – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200088 – asking for fair transitional arrangements for 1950s-born women. This petition has already reached 64,000 signatures in a matter of weeks, but the target we need to secure a debate in parliament is 100,000.
More information about our campaign is available at firstname.lastname@example.org
FAR FROM REASSURED
Reading Sandy Brydon’s interesting report last week, “UK sheep population to be insured against lynx”, reminded me that there is a real possibility that plans will go ahead to release lynx into the Kielder Forest region, in reality affecting both sides of the border. The obvious questions are, why, and, who will benefit?
Seemingly, lynx are powerful creatures capable of killing deer. I am not reassured by provision to extend insurance cover “to attacks on pets and humans”.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE NEFARIOUS
Many thanks to the some 200 people who joined our ghost walk last Saturday.
A very special thanks must go to the thespians of Eyemouth Variety Group who delivered remarkable performances; bravely standing in the darkest corners of the village and wowing the audiences with their portrayal of the various nefarious individuals who had taken residence in Coldingham over the centuries. Thanks also to the group leaders, the safety assistants and the committee members who provided sustenance to both audience and actors.
(for Friends of Coldingham Priory)
PEDAL POWER RAISES £1,578
May I, through these columns, thank everyone who supported me on my recent cycling challenge. I am pleased to report that I raised a total of £1,578 for MND Scotland.
My challenge of cycling 1,000 miles over five weeks, including from Glasgow to Coldstream, was completed with a total mileage of 1129.4 – not bad for an old fella!
All the money raised will go towards finding a cure for this terrible disease and for supporting those who have sadly contracted it.
HELPING HANDS FOR CHILDREN
On behalf of the Borders Children’s Charity (BCC) committee, I would like to thank everybody who has supported the charity through our 50th anniversary year in 2016/17.
I am also pleased to reveal that the BCC has recently been awarded the greatest honour available to a collective of volunteers in the UK – the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, an award described as the MBE for voluntary groups. As well as winning this award, the charity has also benefitted greatly from increased fundraising in recent years. As a result, the Borders Children’s Charity has been able to award £48,723 in grants to benefit local children over the past financial year.
The charity is still staffed entirely by volunteers and over 99% of every penny raised goes directly to help children in the Borders in physical, financial or emotional distress.
We are very grateful to those who provide ongoing support to the charity. These include individuals, schools, community groups, and local and national companies. We are also indebted to the healthcare, social work and education professionals who request assistance for children from the BCC.
The charity’s work is as vital now as it was when the charity was founded. The committee would not have been able to achieve all that it has without support from communities across the Borders.
It is with great pleasure that I hand over to Suzanne Mulholland, our new chair, and wish her and the charity all the very best for the coming year.