Former Hawick man Robert Oliver has celebrated his 100th birthday in New Zealand – but the milestone has also been marked in the Grey Auld Toon.
The Teri centenarian has been the toast of not only more than 100 friends and family in Auckland, but as a founder member of the Hawick Quins in 1928, he received a special life membership certificate – plus a letter from Provost Stuart Marshall.
Bob, or “Pop” as he was known, was born in North Uist in 1914 to Magie Flora (McDonald) and John Oliver, from Hawick. But Bob was brought up in the town, living at Howegate and the Loan before the family moved to Cheviot Road. He was the second of nine children.
Bob’s working life began with a textile repair company owned by Teddy Walker, who sold to George Woodcock – during which time Bob became renowned for his skills and knowledge repairing and building knitting frames. He went on to rebuild German knitting machines during the war, returning to Woodcock’s, managing Ann Howard’s at Heronhill and a spell at Bernat Klein. He and wife Annie (nee Readhead) – they wed in 1939 – then relief-managed local pubs, before Bob finished off with Hogg of Hawick.
But after retirement in 1980, the pair made the decision to emigrate to New Zealand, joining daughter Marian, married to Bill Foster, and son John, married to Edith (Ness). They settled in well and enjoyed six grandchildren.
Annie passed away in 2002, but Bob has 10 great-grandchildren. He only gave up driving four years ago and still lives on his own.
All of the Oliver family, except for Bob and Annie, had gone to Australia in 1950, so those siblings still alive, with nieces and nephews, joined the party which was a huge success, with the customary cards from the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister and many local politicians.
Bob still thinks of Hawick and keeps in touch with former Woodcock’s colleague Ray Telfer and Watt Byers, and regularly phones cousin Jean Craig. Bob was last back ‘home’ in 2006 and one of his fond memories was as a guest at the Harlequins dinner. He has also been a long-time member of Hawick Conservative Club and is a life member of both Masonic lodges.
Son John told the Hawick News: “Bob is genuinely very proud of the ‘scroll’ from the Quins, knowing his name is etched on their records. It’s hanging on the wall in his lounge alongside the card framed from the Queen.”