Banardo’s reunion at Balcary

A former Banardo’s Childrens home in Hawick, used to accommodate evacuees during World War II has been the venue for a large reunion for the children who lived there.

Around 30 old ‘boys and girls’ who lived at Balcary House on Buccleuch Road between 1940 and 1974 returned to Hawick along with former staff, to share stories, memories and photographs and to celebrate their time at the house formerly known as Balcary Home.

Balcary House will shortly be reopening as a hotel, and new owners, Susan and David Watson, kindly agreed to host the reunion party for the Barnardo’s old boys and girls in the year the charity celebrates it’s 150th anniversary.

Councillor Stuart Marshall attended the event, meeting many of the ‘girls and boys’ and their families hearing about the history of the house and area.

Geoff Ruderham, who organised the reunion and lived at Balcary Home from the age of three to 16, said: “It was great to see such a big turnout at the reunion, share our memories and see so many familiar faces.” He has already received enquires about another reunion.

Balcary House dates back to 1888, and was designed by Hawick architect James Pearson Alison. The 17 bedroom mansion house was built as a home for the Laing family, with a studio and billiard rooms added in 1891 and 1901.

It was opened in 1944 by the Banardo’s charity for residential care. The home was one of a dozen evacuation centres Banardo’s established in Scotland.

Through the 1940s it catered for evacuated children from bombed English and Scottish cities. The first residents were 30 children evacuated from a home in Kent.

In the 1950s it became a holiday and respite home for Dr Banardo children and remained so until it closed in May 1974. The property became a Christian Missionary residential and conference centre and was recently sold, with the new owners planing to open a hotel.

To find out more information about the reunion members of the public can visit the Balcary House Hawick Facebook site, and for more information about family history with Barnardo’s they can contact the Making Connections team on 020 855 521004 or email makingconnections@barnardos.org.uk