Collie statue overdue, says Joan

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A bid to install artwork inspired by the much-loved comic character Black Bob in Selkirk has delighted many residents of the town.

Our story last week on the shortlisted artwork for the town’s flood protection scheme showed a large support for the proposal, and one Southern reader contacted us to say she was surprised no one had done it before.

Joan Mundell told us: “I was interested in the proposal to erect a statue of Black Bob the collie dog in Selkirk.

“What surprises me is that there is no statue I have heard of that represents this fantastic breed of dog in the very region that gives it its name.

“Indeed, there isn’t one in the whole of Scotland.

“However, in the 1980s, we visited New Zealand, and on the South Island at Lake Tekapo next to the little Church of the Good Shepherd, there is a fine statue to the Border collie which was erected in 1968 by local farmers.

“This area is known as the Mackenzie country, where, in 1855, a Scottish shepherd turned sheep-stealer, James Mackenzie, came to the area which now bears his name.

“With the help of his dog Friday, he drove flocks of sheep inland to avoid being discovered but was eventually arrested.

“At the unveiling ceremony for the statue, the chairman of the Mackenzie branch of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand commented: ‘Throughout the history of the high country, we have seen the bullock teams replaced by horses, in turn replaced by motor vehicles, and station hacks, to an extent, by four-wheel-drive vehicles, but the collie dog has been and always will be with us.’

“I think it is long past time we erected our own statue to the Border collie somewhere in the Borders, where we have depended on them for many generations and they cannot be replaced.”

Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson revealedearlier this month that the bid had been shortlisted as one of four possible works of art to be placed in the town’s so-called triangle field area.

Black Bob was a comic strip in the Dandy that spanned three decades, the eponymous collie being owned by fictional Selkirk shepherd Andrew Glenn.

The character also had its own annual for several years and even inspired a send-up called Black Bag in the toilet-humour magazine Viz.

An upcoming exhibition will show the shortlisted projects, with feedback contributing to the final decision.