The Scottish Borders 'ambassador' for tourism is clocking off after 46 years

Scottish Borders unofficial ambassador for tourism retires this week after almost 46 years of sterling service.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 9:13 am

Tribute was paid to Riddell Graham when he joined members of Scottish Borders Council via videolink last week.

The former Scottish Borders Tourist Board chief executive and latterly senior figure within VisitScotland calls time on his career on Thursday, September 30.

Council convenor David Parker said no-one had contributed more to tourism in the region and throughout Scotland.

He added: “Riddell joined Scottish Borders Council in 1978 as a transport member of staff but rapidly rose into the tourism function where he was recognised for his outstanding ability and achievement.

"Riddell was the chief executive of the Scottish Borders Tourist Board and did some tremendous work. In the late 1990s and early 2000s he had attracted so much grant funding that the Scottish Borders Tourist Board almost had more staff and more funding than the whole of tourism in Scotland put altogether.

"Riddell has an outstanding record of public service and done tremendous work for the Scottish Borders and Scotland and has been a complete ambassador for tourism.

"There has hardly been a single tourism initiative in Scotland in recent years that has not had Riddell’s involvement.”

Riddell, who lives in a village outside of Kelso with his wife Fiona, was presented with a Borders Reivers plaque and enjoyed a rousing round of applause from members.

He said: “I am surprised and honoured, and really humbled to be recognised in this way.

"I have a lot to thank Scottish Borders Council and its predecessors, Borders regional council and the district councils and for David Douglas and Paul Gregory for giving me my first my first job way back in the late 70s.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my career and with only a few exceptions I have enjoyed every day of my working life.

"In some small way I have to thank my late father for the advice he gave me when I was a wee boy when he said ‘when you grow up son never lose sight of the Eildons’. I kind of realised that meant don’t lose sight of where you come from and where you live all your life and I’m very proud to be a Borderer born and bred.”

Rob Dickson is taking over Riddell’s role as director of industry and destination development with VisitScotland.