For the past 20 years, Selkirk Merchant Company has presented the award, which was donated by Isobel Oliver in memory of her late husband, ex-master Jim, to an individual deemed to have made a special contribution to the life of the town and surrounding area.
Gethin came to live in Selkirk seven years ago, after a career which included spells with the Daily Record and Scotsman newspapers, as well as a stint as a war correspondent embedded with the Black Watch in Iraq. He later worked as the Observer’s correspondent in India.
Most recently his focus has been on helping to create the Mauldsheugh Wood Community Wildlife Project, situated on 20 acres of Philiphaugh Estate land along the south side of the River Ettrick.
In order to fund and develop the project, Mr Chamberlain formed ‘Go Wild Scotland’, a community interest company.
After receiving the award at the Merchant Company’s annual winter function on Friday night in Selkirk Rugby Club, Gethin showed a video of the animals and birds now regularly visiting the wood.
“Getting the award was certainly a surprise,” said Mr Chamberlain. “Our family has really taken to living in Selkirk, and find it a very welcoming community.
“Having become involved in the accommodation business, we started thinking about possible tourism opportunities.
“When the pandemic came along it tore our business plan to pieces. I’d always been interested in wildlife, so rather than just give up, I thought we’d try to do something community-based and see if we could attract funding.
“People have been incredibly nice. I’ll be working down there in the wood and people will stop by and tell me they’d lived in Selkirk all their life, but they’d no idea this was here.
“The social media side of things is really helping the Mauldsheugh project. During the lockdown I posted the trail camera footage on-line, and people were able to enjoy watching wildlife they couldn’t go out and see.
“More and more people coming down to have a look at it, and we’ve now got the local schools involved, as well as the Beavers, Cubs and Brownies.
“We’ve given them a little ‘forest school’ area with seating, and we are now working to see if we can get funding to develop a nature trail.”
For more information on the Mauldsheugh Wood Community Wildlife Project, go to its Face Book page, or click on this link - https://gowildscotland.com/mauldsheugh-wood/
The previous recipients of the James Oliver Memorial Award are - Ella Phaup, Stewart Roberts, Rev. Bill Laing, Jim Newlands, John Smail, Fiona Scott, Billy Stark, Jim Marshall, Jake Wheelans, Graham Coulson, Colin Kemp, Joyce Wright, Graham Easton, David Mitchell, Edith Scott, John Nichol, Caroline Cochrane, Jim McPherson, Derek & Alison Brown (joint recipients) and the ‘People of Selkirk’.