Retired ministers die on the same day

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SERVICES of thanksgiving will be held in the Borders next week following the deaths of two retired Church of Scotland ministers, writes Andrew Keddie.

Coincidentally, the Reverend George Thomson, who lived in Darnick, and the Reverend Tom Donald of Melrose both passed away at their homes last Wednesday.

Mr Thomson, who was 81, answered the call to Yarrow and Megget, as it was then known, in 1966 and served the rural Selkirkshire valleys for 18 years, the parish having been linked to form Ettrick and Yarrow in 1976.

He was moderator of the Presbytery of Melrose in 1972/73 and was chaplain to Peel Hospital from 1977 until his retiral due to ill-health in 1984, although he later moved to the Hillfoots area of central Scotland where he was associate minister at Dollar, Muckhart and Glendevon, returning to live in the Borders in 1988.

During his tenure in the valleys, he was deputy chairman of Selkirkshire Children’s Panel from 1970 until 1975 and represented the Kirk on the education committee of Borders Regional Council from 1978-82.

Educated at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, Mr Thomson’s studies at Edinburgh University were interrupted from 1947-49 when he carried out his National Service with the Royal Scots. He graduated with an MA in 1955 and completed his Bachelor of Divinity degree at the capital’s New College in 1955.

The following year he was ordained to Strathbogie near Huntly and was inducted to Lochside, Dumfries, in 1962.

Mr Thomson will be interred at Yarrow Kirk on Wednesday at 11am, followed by a service of thanksgiving in Melrose Parish Church at 1pm.

Mr Donald, who was 86, came to the ministry relatively late in life, having enjoyed a successful career as a chartered accountant. But he gave up his role as a senior partner with a large accountancy firm at the age of 50 to train for the ministry at Trinity College in Glasgow.

Three years later in 1977 he was inducted and ordained to Bowden, Lilliesleaf and Ashkirk, retiring 10 years later, by which time Ashkirk and been linked with Selkirk.

His private interment next Friday will be followed by a service in Bowden Kirk at 1.30pm.

Officiating at both services will be Melrose minister and recently-appointed Queen’s Chaplain, the Reverend Alistair Bennett, who said: “Both George and Tom made a tremendous contribution to the Kirk and the Borders communities they served with such distinction.”