Basil Gray


The community of Teviothead have lost a wonderful friend with the recent death of Basil Gray.

From the minute the popular Irishman moved into the valley 15 years ago, Basil threw his heart and soul into everything he did. There were no half measures with Basil and he packed so much into his retirement.

With a field to graze, he and his wife Sheila were persuaded by their late friend Turner Fleming to keep Suffolk sheep so a small flock was established at Birkiebrae. He was quite at home breeding tups for the Kelso sale.

He was a strong supporter of Teviothead School, and as chairman of the School Board worked tirelessly for the good of the school and fought hard to keep it open. When the school closed Basil played a huge part in organising an open day to celebrate the life of the school, which saw the community and many former pupils re-united.

Teviothead Hall also benefited enormously from his work on the committee, and he was responsible for masterminding many of the improvements during recent years. He supported everything in the valley and he particularly loved the concerts held in the hall and the annual barbeque, when he was happy acting as the chef.

An accomplished after dinner speaker he could entertain any company from the most formal to the local WRI. He had the wonderful knack of involving people, persuading them to join in and have a go, or just come along and support an event.

He was a loyal member of Hawick Probus Club and Teviotdale Curling Club and both organisations blossomed when Basil was at the helm organising .

A keen fisherman and golfer he was also an enthusiastic rugby fan whether down at Mansfield or supporting his beloved Ireland.

His rural retirement was far removed from his professional life where he was an eminent urologist.

Basil was born in Belfast on 9th March 1932.

Eldest of three children to Billy and Ruby Gray, owners of the Dub Grocery Stores in Belfast where his father also had a butchers shop.

He was educated first and briefly at Methodist College, Belfast and then subsequently at Campbell College in Belfast where amongst other things, he excelled at swimming. This included a spell where the school was evacuated to the Northern Counties Hotel in Portrush due to the risk of bomb attacks during the war.

He enrolled as a medical student at Queens University Belfast in 1950 and qualified as a doctor in 1956 combining his studies with his love of sailing and rugby, although injury curtailed the latter before he left university.

His first jobs were at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and at the City Hospital in Belfast as a houseman and as a registrar. He took posts at Guys Hospital and St Marks Hospital in London from 1962 to 1964. He returned to Belfast as the only fully qualified Urologist in Northern Ireland but, failing to secure a consultants post, he took up his first consultants job at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy in 1966.