Provost Smith’s pledge as town ambassador

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FORMER geography teacher Ron Smith has found his way to the role of honorary provost.

And after taking the chains from previous incumbent and fellow councillor, Zandra Elliot, the 66-year-old has mapped out his course for a successful term in office.

Councillor Smith, who was installed unopposed at Wednesday night’s Provost’s Council annual general meeting, said: “It’s already a tremendous privilege to be a local councillor, and now a huge honour to be elected as honorary provost.

“The Borders has many different, yet similar, towns. The task is to keep Hawick at the forefront – ‘the Queen of the Borders’. I will continue that ambassadorial role.

“During my term as councillor I have always sought to be approachable. Hopefully that will stand me in good stead in helping with and taking part in all sorts of local events.”

Councillor Smith was brought up in Motherwell and attended Glasgow University, going on to teach geography for four years at Lanark Grammar School before coming to Hawick in 1972 as head of the geography department And while he may not be a Teri, he revealed a great passion for the town and its people. “I’m conscious always of being an incomer to the town, but I’m also mindful of a comment Councillor [Jock] Houston once said, that none of us can choose where we’re born, but we can choose where we stay.

“I came here in 1972 because the quality of life in this town is so good and it was an excellent place to bring up my family and become part of the community.”

Having retired from teaching – for the first time – in March 2002, Councillor Smith, who has three sons – Andrew, Euan and Kieron – assisted his wife Eileen in running their home as a bed and breakfast, before returning to the high school on a six-month contract and then a back-office job in a local travel agency.A staunch Liberal Democrat, he was elected onto Scottish Borders Council in May 2007 for the Hawick and Hermitage ward and is currently vice-convenor of the local authority, as well as executive member for children and strategic services.

And he admitted, after Councillor Elliot’s hugely successful three terms in charge, he has a hard act to follow.

He added: “Provost Elliot has been an outstanding ambassador for Hawick, immensely respected throughout the Borders and a doughty defender of Hawick’s identity and traditions. Gracious, stylish and always perfectly prepared, she will be a hard act to follow, but has set an example for me of the role an honorary provost should fulfil.”

At the meeting, Councillor Stuart Marshall was appointed senior baillie; baillie number two Richard Knight; baillie number three Jock Houston; and baillie number four Rob Brydon.

A presentation of a basket of flowers was made to Councillor Elliot by Evelyn Sangster on behalf of Future Hawick and the Farmers’ Market.

n Zandra steps down, page 9