First Burnfoot minister and his wife Nancy celebrate diamond memories with family

THE first minister of Burnfoot Church says that reaching his diamond wedding anniversary has brought back wonderful memories of Hawick.

The Reverand Alexander Barr was only 25-years old when he single-handedly established a congregation in Burnfoot by “banging on doors”.

But as the former Hawick minister and wife Nancy celebrate 60 years of marriage at home in Paisley, those early days in 1950s Hawick still hold a special place in their hearts.

“We have very happy memories of Hawick indeed”, he stated.

It had all begun only weeks before his induction as the first minister of Burnfoot Parish Church, when the pair had met for the first time at a family wedding. And Mr Barr admits to being quite bowled over by Nancy. “I remember thinking I was very impressed with this lady. And the one thing that has always stuck in my mind, was the softness of her hands.”

The year was 1952, at a time when Burnfoot only offered an evening service in a cement shed, and whilst Nancy lived and worked in Kirkcaldy, the young minister was tasked with forming Burnfoot Parish.

Mr Barr recalled: “There was no congregation, but there were only 300 in houses in Burnfoot at that time, so I just started banging on doors, and that was the way we started. It was a bit of challenge.”

At the same time, the Rev Barr and Nancy would meet up every Monday evening in Edinburgh, to go to the pictures and have coffee. And soon the pair were engaged, and were married on February 27, 1954 in Kirkcaldy (where Mrs Barr had grown up), before the Church of Scotland allocated them a house in Fraser Avenue. “It was an ideal situation because people could see the minister was just like them, and got to know us well. It really was a wonderful time,” Mr Barr stated.

And in the same month that the pair were wed, work had began to build Burnfoot its first every church at the top of Fraser Avenue - which opened on April 1, 1955 - of which Mr Barr still treasures a beautifully framed picture.

When a new post came up at Fife’s Methil Parish Church, the pair left Hawick in 1958 accompanied by their young daughter, Eleanor.

A few weeks after arriving their second daughter, Susan, was born at the Manse and four years later their third daughter, Kathryn, was also born there. And in June 1967 they accepted an invitation to go to St. Nicholas’ Cardonald Parish Church, Glasgow, where they remained for 25 years until Mr Barr retired in 1992.

Upon their retirement they moved to the Paisley area to allow them to be close to their daughters and four grand children.

To mark their diamond wedding occasion the couple received a telegram from Her Majesty The Queen which was presented to them by Mr Norman Walker, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, and they also celebrated with family and friends at a lunch.

And when asked for tips to such a long and happy union, the Rev Barr added: “We have always believed that marriage is for life, and that is how we look at it.

“We have had a very happy time and have high regard for one another.

“Like everyone we have had our ups and downs, but you just smile through.”