Seminarians sent home to the Borders from Italy

St Andrews and Edinburgh seminarians Martin Eckersley from Jedburgh, eft, and Galashiels' Bobby Taylor, right, from Galashiels, with Archbishop Leo Cushley at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Both Borderers have been sent home as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic.St Andrews and Edinburgh seminarians Martin Eckersley from Jedburgh, eft, and Galashiels' Bobby Taylor, right, from Galashiels, with Archbishop Leo Cushley at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Both Borderers have been sent home as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic.
St Andrews and Edinburgh seminarians Martin Eckersley from Jedburgh, eft, and Galashiels' Bobby Taylor, right, from Galashiels, with Archbishop Leo Cushley at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Both Borderers have been sent home as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic. | User (UGC)
Two Borders seminarians studying to become priests were sent home from their college in Rome last week, just before Italy went into lockdown.

Bobby Taylor, of Galashiels, and Jedburgh’s Martin Eckersley are in their sixth year of study at the Pontifical Scots College in the Italian capital.

Though regions in the north of the country have been affected badly, Bobby and Martin were sent home on Friday purely as a precaution before any major restrictions came into force across the whole of the country.

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He said: “Fortunately, leaving when we did, there is no need to self-isolate, but we are all being very sensible and keeping an eye out for any symptoms.“It was all up north, really. Anyone in Rome with the virus are people who have come from the north to be treated in hospital.

The Border Pilgrims group has had to cancel a tour of the Holy Land due to the coronavirus outbreak.The Border Pilgrims group has had to cancel a tour of the Holy Land due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Border Pilgrims group has had to cancel a tour of the Holy Land due to the coronavirus outbreak. | User (UGC)

“The only way it has affected us in the college, which is 20 minutes from the centre of Rome, is that we have had increased hygiene standards.

“One of the most noticeable things was that the city is so quiet. When we left, it’s around the time when people start to come and visit, but not this year.

“As for when we can go back, it really is the Great Unknown. Our term was supposed to finish for Easter anyway, so we’ve just got an extended holiday.”

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In the meanwhile, a religious Borders singing group has had to cancel their planned trio to the Holy Land this month due to the virus.

Border Pilgrims’ Marion Dodd told us: “The Coronavirus has reached the West Bank, and Bethlehem is in lockdown.

“All checkpoints are closed, all major public events are cancelled, pilgrim sites in Israel are not open, and many airlines are now not allowed to enter the country.

“We would like to thank all those who came to our two fundraising concerts, and those who donated to our Just Giving page or who gave donations in other ways towards the work of ‘Musicians without Borders’ over there, which uses music education within three refugee camps to help with the social integration of the children and families.

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“A total of £4,260 has been raised to date, and we plan to send £3,000 now to the project, holding some money back to pay for shipping costs of instruments.”

The group plans to reschedule the trip next March.

Yesterday, NHS Borders revealed the first two cases of coronavirus to hit the region.

Both patients are reported to be well, and are currently self-isolating.

Both had recently returned to the Borders from risk areas.

NHS Borders is currently putting together plans for dealing with the expected outbreak, with a drive-through testing station within the Borders General Hospital Campus, and using the Margaret Kerr Unit for any inpatients who have contracted the disease.

Anyone who feels they may have contracted the virus are asked to call 111 and immediately self-isolate.

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