TRIBUTES have been paid to former Second World War code breaker Barbara Baker, who died earlier this month.
The octogenarian was among a band of people recognised for their efforts in intercepting German codes at the secretive Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire during the battle against Hitler’s Germany.
After returning north of the Border, Barbara helped form Stow Community Council with Tom Murray and Robert Logan, serving as secretary until two years ago.
And she also served on Borders Regional Council where her experience in social work proved invaluable, according to Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker.
He added: “Barbara was a very nice lady who had a real passion for education and social work provision and she was enormously instrumental in securing the new school for Stow.
“She was a great friend of Riddle Dumble and was very well respected by all members across the political spectrum.
“She spent her latter years living in Tweedbank, so we spoke occasionally about council matters and she kept a very watchful eye on what the council was doing.
“She was very caring and committed to children’s and elderly services and she had a real basic fundamental common-sense approach to life.”
Ex-Stow community councillor and now a Borders Party representative on SBC, Sandy Aitchison admitted he sometimes had disagreements with his former colleague, but maintained: “Whatever she did, it was for the good of the village”.
He told us: “She was a character who was well known in the village. She was one of the first community councillors and served right through until two years ago.
“It is testament to Barbara that even when she moved away from Stow, she remained on the community council. She always had the goodness of the community in her heart.
“She was a familiar sight in her car with her BB personalised number plate.
“I don’t think she would want anyone to remember her as a soft woman. She knew her own mind.”
Former SBC leader Drew Tulley described the great-grandmother as a “stalwart” for the Stow area.
He told us: “She was a very dedicated councillor, but was also a very pleasant woman and a pleasure to work with.
She and her husband Freddie would always be seen together.
“She was a great fighter for Stow Town Hall and worked hard to get it modernised. Barbara will be greatly missed by the people of Stow.”
Speaking to TheSouthern two years ago about her role as a Bletchley Park code-breaker, for which she was given a commemorative badge, Barbara said: “We had to keep so quiet about what we were doing there – I couldn’t even tell my husband or family.
“Sometimes it would take us until the end of the month to break the code – it was good to know you had made a difference.
“I had hoped to be working alongside my husband when I went there – instead I worked with all the boffins who liked playing cards and crosswords. It was a 24-hour operation with three shifts split 9am to 4pm, 4pm to midnight and midnight to 9am. It was hard work, but I was young and enjoyed it.
“All we got for our services was 10 bob a week and two train passes. I took a WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) rainjacket home and they demanded I bring it back.”