Tribute paid to true gent John ‘Choppy’ Crawford

John 'Choppy' Crawford.
John 'Choppy' Crawford.

Melrose businessman and sportsman John Crawford, born on July 28, 1937, has died at the age of 80.

John, known to many as Choppy, died at home in Melrose surrounded by family and friends on Saturday, February 3, after a two-year-long battle with cancer.

Choppy Crawford.

Choppy Crawford.

Born in Scotts Place, Melrose, a true guitterbluid, he was educated at Melrose Grammar School.

After leaving school at the age of 15, he joined the family building business, where he served his apprenticeship as a stonemason before being called up to do his national service.

He enlisted with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, serving in Malaya and Berlin.

He continued to be a member of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ Association and as recently as last November marched at the cenotaph with fellow Borderers.

Choppy Crawford.

Choppy Crawford.

Before he did his national service, John was an original junior member of the Melrose Tennis Club and developed from a promising junior into a fiercely competitive badminton and tennis player.

He enjoyed success in both of those sports, winning the Border Junior Badminton doubles and the East of Scotland Junior Tennis doubles titles in 1955.

On the sudden death of his father Jim, John was thrust into running the family building business at the age of 26.

Along with his elder sister Eileen, he continued to expand the business into one of the biggest firms and local employers in the Borders.

John was a hard but fair and very capable businessman and astute enough to surround himself with a loyal in-house team.

He was never averse to seek further professional advice when necessary.

Aside from work, he played rugby for Melrose, continuing the Crawford family tradition, and he was an integral part of the teams which won the Scottish Championship and Border League in 1963 and the Scottish Championship in 1967.

He continued to play well into his 40s with the Borders Golden Oldies, such was his love of the game and the camaraderie it provided.

For many years, work and family commitments took up most of his time, but he did find time to take up golf, serving on the Melrose Golf Club committee before taking on the role of club captain in 1993.

He was also a member of the Jolly Boys, a group of former rugby players who have become an integral part of the Melrose Rugby Club scene.

John took pride in everything Melrose and served on the town council as dean of guild and on reorganisation served for at least 10 years as a community councillor.

He was also a board member of Borders College.

The Crawford family have always supported the local community in many different ways – too many to mention – but John took great pride in seeing two of his sons, Michael and Cameron becoming Melrosians before his grandson Donald continued the family tradition three years ago.

John is survived by Esther, his wife of 58 years, and to whom he was totally devoted, his sons Michael, Malcolm, Cameron and Callum and his eight grandchildren, Annabel, Donald, Douglas, Finlay, George, Lucinda, Lorna and Ellen.

John’s funeral will take place at Melrose Parish Church next Wednesday, February 14, at 12.30pm with internment thereafter at the Waird’s Cemetery.

(WMGB)