Myra finally retiring from public service

One of Hawick’s most popular elder stateswomen is standing down from her seat on a local housing association’s board after nearly a quarter of a century’s service.

The move could mean that Myra Turnbull is actually, finally, ready to retire from public service.

It’s a threat she made 24 years ago, when the then chairman of Eildon Housing Association, Bill Wilkie, asked her to join the association’s committee.

However, it was an empty threat, and she went on to serve the association as a board member.

But the 85-year-old, was Hawick’s first female provost from 1988 to 1996, now feels it is time to step down.

She told us: “I’ve done 12 years on the council, eight as provost and now over 24 years at Eildon. I think I deserve a bit of retirement.”

Myra said she first entered the world of politics after her husband John died suddenly in 1982.

John was a grocer and whisky blender for the family business, Turnbull Grocery and Wine Shop.

He was also a councillor for the then Roxburgh District Council.

She said: “The year before John died, he had a big coronary, and I asked him if anything happened to him, what would I do without him.

“He just said ‘you’ll just get on with it’, so when he died, I just felt him pushing me on from behind, and I just got on with it.”

She became the first female provost of Hawick and was made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

She was nearing the end of her political career when she was offered the voluntary role with Eildon.

She said: “I kind of fell into the Eildon position. As provost, back in 1993, I was opening new houses in Elm Grove in Hawick. The chairman at the time was Bill Wilkie, and he asked me to join the committee. I told him I was about to retire.

“Now, 24 years later, I can honestly say I’ve never regretted it. I’ve loved every minute, and I’ll certainly miss it.

“I am very much a people person and thoroughly enjoyed visiting our sheltered housing and other care services to meet people and talk about their issues.

“Eildon is a very forward-looking housing association, with a very strong team and a good mix of young and old on the board.”

Association chief executive Nile Istephan said: “Myra brought with her a raft of knowledge and experience from her business background and public service in Hawick.

“She has been a key part of the growth and success of Eildon Housing Association ever since, and we will miss her contributions around the board table.

“Those who know Myra will recognise her as a passionate advocate for the Borders.

“She has acted an as ambassador for our work across Scotland and is equally at home engaging with politicians or simply chewing the fat with folk in our older people’s housing services.

“We would like to put on public record our thanks to Myra for her contribution over the years, and we wish her well in her hard-earned retirement.”

When asked what she planned to do with all the free time, she laughed: “Oh my goodness, I think the first job will be to clear out my office!”