Ex-servicemen salute those who made ultimate sacrifice

Ex-Servicemen's Club president Jim Adams is joined by the top table and guests at last week's annual dinner in the town hall.
Ex-Servicemen's Club president Jim Adams is joined by the top table and guests at last week's annual dinner in the town hall.

Hawick Ex-Servicemen’s Club held its 86th annual dinner in the town hall last Friday night when the guest speaker was the Hon. Gerald Maitland-Carew, Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale.

Jim Adams, club president, welcomed members and said he was honoured and privilegedto be chairing the dinner.He then paid tribute to Jim Fox, a past-president and loyal servant of the club, who had passed on three weeks ago.

Giving his toast to ‘The Ex-Servicemen’s Club’, Mr Maitland-Carew, in a well-received speech, said: “Hawick, with its long history and traditions, makes it not surprising you have such a thriving club, run in such a traditional and splendid manner. It is an honour for me to be asked here this evening, especially having been your principal guest last year on Remembrance Sunday.”

Talking of his military service, he continued: “I served in the army for 11 years up to 1972, a good deal of the time in Germany. It was a period known as The Cold War. We had armoured cars and then tanks.

“We took our turn in patrolling the East German border. We were ready to combat any threat coming from the east, from behind what was called by [Winston] Churchill, the Iron Curtain.

“I am very delighted this evening to see Lou Godfrey, who was in the same regiment, the 15th/19th Hussars, as myself. As many of you will know, he had a distinguished career with the regiment, as did his son who is now a senior officer.”

Highlighting the sacrifices made by the fallen, the Lord Lieutenant went on: “This Remembrance weekend we must all quietly remember what many gave for their country. We can only imagine the devastation to many families.

Mr Maitland Carew, a member of the Lauderdale and Gala Water Ex-Servicemen’s Club for more than 40 years, added: “I always look forward to annual dinners like this one when I know I will be amongst kindred spirits. Thank you all for a delicious dinner and an entertaining evening.”

Proposing the toast to ‘Absent Friends’, Trinity church minister, the Rev. Michael Scouler, a former army chaplain, said: “Why do we remember? Is it because we dare not forget? I think it probably is, and I think that’s quite understandable because war, quite frankly, is too ghastly to be ignored. It is foverever unfortunately knocking on our door, awaiting or demanding a response.

“Before opening the door we should always think very very carefully what happened the last time. Do we really want to step out into the storm and are we prepared for it?

Continuing a thought-provoking address, Rev. Scouler said: “War is like a rewind, a cup-tie that refuses to be resolved, there’s ever more replays, ever more contested decisions and outcomes. and nothing ever seems to be resolved.

“One war sews the seed for the next war, for the return match, the play-off, the final war to end all wars which we’ve yet to see.

“What I think we learn from war is how to make bigger weapons and better defend ourselves. Our weapons get bigger and defences get more sophisticated. Nothing much beyond that changes.”

Following the speech, piper Cammy Renwick played a moving lament, during which the town hall lights were dimmed. Bugler Colin Crozier then played the Last Post, which was followed by a two-minute silence and Mr Crozier’s Reveille.

The toast to ‘The Guests’ was given by club vice-president Gordon Solley, to which Provost Stuart Marshall replied. Club member Malcolm Murphy delivered the vote of thanks.

Singers who entertained the company of about 100 were Michael Aitken, Bernie Armstrong, Bert Armstrong MBE and John Tait, accompanied at the piano by Ken Fotheringham. In recognition of racking up half-a-century as an entertainer at the function, Bert was presented with a life membership of the club and a gift to mark his recent 90th birthday.

Caterer for the evening was Brydon’s, while Hawick YM did the bar, and Hawick Wanderers supplied the waiters.