WELL-KNOWN couple Tom and Maureen Hartop will toast a life full of golden moments this weekend with the celebration of their 50th anniversary.
The popular ex-Acting Father and Mother – who helped ensure that Common-Riding 1981 was a special year – can now add another milestone to their list of achievements together having reached their fifth decade of marriage. The Longhope Drive couple are celebrating with a trip to London, but despite travelling the world during his career, retired mill boss Tom says it is their home town to which they owe much of their happiness. “There were opportunities to live elsewhere at various times, but we never considered it”, he stated. “I was always very happy to come back to Hawick. It has been good to us.”
It was a first meeting during the Wilton Church Social which would begin their life together, at the ages of 16 and 17 respectively. Maureen, who lived in Dickson Street when it was tenemants, said: “We grew up together really.”
With Tom working in the order office at Turner & Rutherford’s and Maureen a hand-sewer at Pringle’s, they courted at dances, the cinema, and up the park – until Tom was called-up for national service in Lincoln. Although allowed only one phone call a week and Tom returning just once a month, by writing every day their love more than passed the test. And the pair were married on September 15, 1961, in St Cuthbert’s Church, before celebrating in the Victoria Hotel.
Their first home was in Garfield Street in a flat which has now been demolished, but with the arrival of daughter Jill followed by son Derek, lived in Burnfoot and Silverbuthall, before settling in Longhope Drive which has been home for more than 30 years.
Tom’s working life spanned from sales rep with Turner & Rutherford’s to factory manager at Hawico, then joint managing director with the late Ken Lothian, before moving to the helm of N. Peal Cashmere. And with 1981 Cornet David Blacklock and family amongst many lifelong friends which have been made through such involvement in the town and the Common-Riding, Tom, a former president of the 1514 Club and the Callants Club, added: “We have had a super social life in Hawick.”
And when asked their secret to a long marriage, he said with a smile: “It’s about give and take”, whilst Maureen joked: “A sense of humour.”
Celebrating their ruby wedding ten years ago the pair were stranded in Seattle following the attack on the Twin Towers, but this time the devoted grandparents to Thomas and Fergus - with another due next week - are looking forward to a family reunion at the Buccleuch Hotel in November.
n Talking Point, page 12