Stroke unit handed cash donation in memory of long-serving standard bearer

Left to right: Brian Jones, Iris Jones and Dr Paul Syme.
Left to right: Brian Jones, Iris Jones and Dr Paul Syme.
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The family of a Royal British Legion stalwart have handed over almost £2,400 to the Borders General Hospital’s stroke unit to thank it for the care it provided for him in his last days of life.

Tom Jones, of Darnick, died in December following a stroke, just eight days before his 70th birthday and only weeks after hanging up the legion banner he had carried as a standard bearer for the previous 14 years.

Standard Bearer Tom Jones.

Standard Bearer Tom Jones.

A cheque for £2,380 was presented to consultant Paul Syme at the Melrose unit by Tom’s wife Iris and their son Brian.

That money was raised by a collection taken by family and friends at a service of thanksgiving at Melrose Parish Church.

Iris said: “I couldn’t believe just how many people turned out for his funeral. We really didn’t expect that many people to show, never mind such a large amount of donations. It really is an incredible amount to be able to hand over.”

Tom was born in Fife but spent all of his childhood in Melrose.

In 1965, he joined the Parachute Regiment. During his six years in the airborne regiment, he saw action in Bahrain, Aden, Yeman, Singapore, Malaya and Northern Ireland.

He and Iris married in 1969, and Tom left the regiment in 1971 to join his new wife in running of Hettie’s hair salon in Melrose’s High Street until his retirement 14 years ago.

Tom maintained a keen interest in sports including golf. His passion, however, was horses and showjumping, and he took part in numerous events.

Tom had carried the banner for his local Royal British Legion branch on Remembrance Sunday for 14 years, only giving up that standard bearer’s role last November 13.

He said he was “very proud and honoured” to undertake that duty but joked that he only kept on doing it so long “because they couldn’t find anyone else”.

On his final day as standard bearer, Tom’s dedication shone as he continued to carry out duties at remembrance services in Newstead, Gattonside and Melrose.

Iris said: “The staff at Borders General Hospital were absolutely brilliant, and they kept Tom so very comfortable.

“The care he received was really excellent, and we want to thank them and allow them to pass that care onto others.”

She added: “You just have to keep on going, and I am doing that by keeping busy through continuing to work.”

Tom also leaves a 12-year-old granddaughter, Lucy.

Karen Wilson, fundraising manager at the Difference, the hospital’s charity, said: “We are so very grateful to the Jones family for their kind donation.

“Donations help fund enhancements to NHS Borders services such as patient comforts, improvements to patient environments as well as specialist equipment.

“At the moment, staff at the stroke unit are looking at making improvements to their garden so that patients can enjoy this outdoor space, and this donation will go a long way to helping make that happen.”