Call for fundraising wartime ladies’ plaque

An ambulance, which may have looked like this, was sent to the front during World War One, fundraised by the women of Selkirk ... the first town in Scotland to do so.
An ambulance, which may have looked like this, was sent to the front during World War One, fundraised by the women of Selkirk ... the first town in Scotland to do so.

A Selkirk man researching the exploits of Souters during the First World War has called for a plaque to be placed by the fountain at the Victoria Halls in remembrance of the fundraising feats of the town’s women.

Dougie Purves raised the issue at Monday’s meeting of Selkirk Community Council.

He said: “I think it would be a good thing if we were able to place a plaque commemorating the fundraising done by the women of Selkirk during World War One.

“Selkirk was the first town in Scotland to send an ambulance to the front, with money raised by the town’s women.When it was in service, its mascot was a dog called Selkirk.

“What these women did was remarkable – they also sent out many parcels – and I can’t think of a better place for a commemoration than the fountain in these grounds.”

He told us afterwards: “I have been travelling back and forth to the hub in Hawick, looking at wartime copies of the Southern Reporter, and it’s amazing what you find.

“The link to Selkirk went even further, and two beds in the hospital in Rouen were named Ettrick and Yarrow.”

The idea was well received by councillors, and Mr Purves was advised to approach David Deacon of the town’s ex-soldiers’ association as it is looking to do what it can to commemorate the centenary of the end of the war in 1918.

Meanwhile, the fountain itself – an impressively ornate Victorian sculpture – needs some repair work.

The community council is preparing an application for funding for that – it’s expected to cost more than £10,000 to bring it back to its best – from Scottish Borders Council’s localities bid fund.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar said: “The next round of funding sees £300,000 to be awarded across the Borders, with £95,000 to be spent in the Eildon area.

“Anything will be considered, but we need to get moving now.”

The deadline for applications to the fund is October 1 – anyone with any ideas for projects that need funding should get in touch.