Edward Burns Young

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THE BORDERS lost a great character with the passing of Eddie Young at the age of 94.

Still having the odd shot of golf in his 95th year typified the life of the Morebattle man whose dedication to and enthusiasm for sport knew no bounds. Indeed, he met his future wife Ellen Haig while playing badminton in Morebattle village school and when they married on September 4, 1944, it was the beginning of 67 happy years together, where she stoically coped with countless afternoons in pouring wet fields watching him run, young men leaving trails of liniment all over her house and frequent late returns from rugby, golf or fishing trips, via the Templehall Hotel. But by then Ellen was already well aware of Eddie’s passion for sport and it was a strong part of EB Young that attracted her to him.

He had been called up for service in World War Two, one of the first recruits to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), and was well known among fellow soldiers for organising sports, including games of football in Cairo. He was due to return to Egypt when home for a brief spell, which persuaded Eddie and Ellen to get married relatively quickly. With everything rationed in wartime, there was no heating in the church so the wedding was a small affair in the Morebattle church manse study of Rev Harkness.

As it turned out, Eddie was posted to the south of England, and the Young family began to grow with the arrival of Brian in August, 1945, followed by Helen in 1950 and Ian in 1958. At the war’s end Eddie returned to Morebattle to work in his father’s garage, TG Young’s, known for miles, where he had started work at 14 when his family decided high school would not be for him. But he returned without younger brother Tommy. A pilot, he was shot down, it emerged only after the war, on a bombing raid over Bremen on 30 June, 1941, and is buried there.

That was hard for Eddie, who grew up a boisterous member of a family of six siblings – John, the eldest, Ina, Eddie, Tommy, Jean and Nettie. He never forgot Tommy nor stopped wondering about his fate, but he threw himself into life as a mechanic, teaching people to drive, fixing cars at all hours to keep people on the road and even helping drive local buses, and also to a sporting life that revolved around open athletics.

He played all sports that came his way, but it was running that hooked him as firmly as he often did trout up the Bowmont. He won races across Scotland and the north of England, the half-mile his speciality, and then took to training others. He was famed for being a hard taskmaster, but when an 80th birthday ‘This if your Life’ was held in Morebattle 14 years ago, around 40 runners turned up in the small village from the south of England to the north of Scotland to pay tribute to their old trainer.

Two of his pupils, Jim and the late Steve Todd, won mile races at the blue riband Powderhall and Newtongrange meetings, and his school picked up medals and trophies galore. The New Year parties at his house in Mainsfield Avenue were also legendary as runners descended from all corners.

That was the other side of Eddie. He was a dedicated character to work – only retiring in his 80s when the garage closed – and sport, but a great entertainer. He loved nothing more than partying with good music, dancing and plenty of humour. He ran the Morebattle Games and chaired the Morebattle Village Hall committee for decades – the sizeable collection at his funeral will help with repairs to the latter – was a popular supporter of Kelso RFC, well known particularly by the club’s championship-winning sides and their Scotland internationalists, and a regular at Murrayfield until recently.

He struggled with the loss of daughter Helen to cancer in 2008, and then bravely facing illness himself, emptied his locker at the Hirsel Golf Club only last month and called local boys to his bedside to share out golf clubs, including the one that brought his treasured hole-in-one at Embleton; his desire to develop sport as keen as ever.

There are few characters of his ilk these days, and Morebattle and the Borders probably does not yet know how much it will miss Eddie Young.

He is survived by Ellen, sisters Jean and Nettie, sons Brian and Ian, his five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and remembered by hundreds more whose lives he touched, enriched and brought a little humour to.

DF