Funding secured for replica of sculpture stolen near Hawick

The Will H Ogilvie memorial at Roberton as it was.
The Will H Ogilvie memorial at Roberton as it was.

Funding has been secured to replace a bronze memorial to Borders poet Will H Ogilvie stolen three years ago.

Hawick’s common good fund sub-committee has agreed to chip in £2,000 for a cairn for the bronze sculpture, being replicated thanks to the efforts of admirers of Ogilvie’s.

Borders poet Will H Ogilvie.

Borders poet Will H Ogilvie.

The Will H Ogilvie Memorial Trust has been working to recover or replace the tribute, created by Hawick sculptor William Landles in 1993, ever since it was stolen from alongside the Hawick to Roberton hill road in July or August 2016.

The sculpture, of a book inscribed with his poems and travels in Australia, was never recovered, but luckily an exact copy had been made by Antipodean admirers of his.

Using 3D modelling software, a copy has now been made of the Australian sculpture and it is due to be unveiled just after the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth on August 16.

The group has already raised £5,600 to pay for the sculpture but needed a further £3,600 for a cairn to place it on.

Appearing at a meeting of the common good sub-committee on Tuesday, the group’s chairman, Ian Landles, a relative of the late sculptor, told councillors: “It will soon be the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth, and we’re hoping to unveil the memorial as part of his birthday celebrations.

“We’re a small group that has been working to further the works of WH Ogilvie for some time now.

“Everything was going along well until the memorial at Roberton was destroyed.

“Fortunately, WH Ogilvie appears to be much more popular in Australia than he is in his homeland, and he has a large following there who have helped us to reproduce the memorial.

“The new bronze will cost over £5,000 and the cairn will cost over £3,000, and we’re in the position at the moment where one of our own committee members has had to put their hand in their own pocket and help us out, so we’re financially challenged, to say the least.

“I hope you can support our application, and hopefully the cairn will attract visitors to the Borders and the Ogilvie trail.”

Mr Landles also confirmed that the replacement sculpture will be insured, meaning that if anything untoward happens to it, the trust will not be left out of pocket.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull, chairman of the sub-committee, said: “It’s very unfortunate, obviously, that it was stolen in the first place.

“I think you have to be commended for all of the work that’s involved here, and I’m very supportive of your application.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage was also full of praise, saying: “I think this is just amazing and will enhance education and the arts, culture and heritage of the town.

“I fully support this. £2,000 for what you’re offering is amazing.”

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer added: “I’m exactly the same as councillor Ramage.

“This will bring visitors to the town and will also celebrate this fantastic poet, whose works continue to be raised and praised to this day.

“I think it would be remiss of us to not support this. We need to get this memorial back.”

The replacing of the memorial cairn near Roberton will not be the only event taking place in the Borders to mark the 150th anniversary of Ogilvie’s birth, as the the Ex-Kelso Laddies’ Club is also planning a tribute.

The organisation is planning on marking the 150th of his birth by erecting a memorial stone at his 1869 birthplace at Holefield, near Kelso.

Ogilvie died in 1963 at the age of 93.