Hundreds gather for funeral of crash teenager

More than 500 people packed into Trinity church on Monday to pay their final respects to teenage car crash victim Dale Whillans.

The huge display of affection for the popular 18-year-old, who lost his life three days after being injured in a road accident on Easter Monday, included more than 200 teenagers among the congregation, and later at the crematorium, many mourners were forced to gather outside.

Rev. Michael Scouler, who delivered a poignant and thoughtful service which centred around the special place which Dale held in the hearts of his family and friends, highlighted how likable the talented local football player had been, and when alluding to his gift when playing a game he loved, he said: “Dale could get an extra 20 per cent from those around him. Everybody here today knows that this holds true in life generally. And many of you are sitting there nursing that 20 per cent, maybe a good deal more, but I’ll wager not much less.”

He went on: “That is the place Dale held in your life. How he enriched and amplified it. His life, which is now his legacy.”

The 18-year-old was a passenger in a Black Seat car which left the road and landed in a field one mile west of Cleikemin, near Jedburgh, on Monday, April 6. He played football for Hawick United and was currently in a second spell with Hawick Legion.

The Hawick News printed an appreciation about Dale that week, penned by our columnist Thomas Clark, about which Rev. Scouler remarked: “Thomas Clark’s beautifully observed tribute to Dale was a fitting testimony to a footballer, as well as a lad. Of course, it was in the sports section. That’s where Dale himself would happily be placed.”

He added: “From the moment the toddler with blonde hair in dreadlocks could walk, he was kicking, and before long passing. Football became an expression of his very identity, and the pitch, or whatever place qualified as one, the car park behind Longcroft or beside the Mote, these became the places where he expressed himself most eloquently.”

Just recently, Dale had swapped his Hawick life for New Zealand – the place of his birth in 1996 after two years previously his mum Val had move there with his father Michael Bell – and where his grandmother, former Hawick shopkeeper Moira Bell, now resides. The gathering heard that Dale had enjoyed three months in New Zealand before returning to Hawick in December, impressing his family with plans to study psycology.

And making mention of those close family ties in Hawick, including a fun-loving relationship with Dale’s auntie and uncle, Susan and Phil Coltman, and cousin Emma, the minister said of a bond with grandparents Cathy and the late Jim Whillans: “He’d arrive like an energetic firecracker. As well as the customary cuddles all round and his usual requirement of “food for fuel”, he’d do helpful stuff like making seed holes in papa’s beloved greenhouse.”

Further alluding to the impact the popular 18-year old had on those around him, and to the fitting tributes paid to him during Monday’s funeral, Rev. Scouler added: “I can’t commend enough the bravery and dignity shown by the speakers in what were the most heartbreaking of circumstances.”

Memorial match, page 40