family and colleagues raising money for hospital unit in memory of Hawick school dinner lady Mary

Mary Anderson's daughter Clare and granddaughters Heather and Hayley with school kitchen staff at this year's fair.
Mary Anderson's daughter Clare and granddaughters Heather and Hayley with school kitchen staff at this year's fair.

A school community in Hawick has come together to pay tribute to a much-loved cleaner and dinner lady killed by cancer at the age of 59.

Mary Anderson was a member of staff at Burnfoot Community School for over three decades.

Burnfoot Community School dinner lady Mary Anderson last year.

Burnfoot Community School dinner lady Mary Anderson last year.

She was held in high regard by staff, pupils and parents alike, so all were saddened when she lost her battle with cancer last month.

As a way of remembering Mary, staff at the Kenilworth Avenue primary decided that instead of sending out Christmas cards this year, they would make a donation to the Margaret Kerr Unit, the specialist palliative care provider at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.

The unit will also benefit from the proceeds raised by a contest to guess the number of sweeties in a jar, a stall fundraiser Mary, of Fraser Avenue in Hawick, had organised during her years at the school.

There was added poignancy this time round as Mary’s daughter Clare and her granddaughters, Hayley and Heather helped run the stall in her absence last weekend.

Deputy headteacher Lynne Aitchison said: “After a very bravely-fought battle with cancer, which she had already beaten on two separate occasions, Mary sadly passed away in November this year .

“She is a huge miss to her family, work colleages and children, parents and the community of Burnfoot.

“As a tribute to Mary, staff at Burnfoot are donating the money they would have spent on giving each other Christmas cards to the Margaret Kerr Unit, which provided Mary and her family with vital care and support.

Sheila Clyne, in charge of the school’s kitchen and a colleague of Mary’s for 15 years, added: “Mary is such a huge loss. She was a very bubbly character who was full of life.

“She would do anything for you, and we all miss her.”

“Every year at the school Christmas fair, Mary donated a jar of sweets for the guess-the-number-of-sweeties stall.

“This year, Mary’s colleagues filled a jar with sweeties for her.

“The stall was run by Mary’s daughter Clare and her granddaughters Hayley and Heather.

“All the money raised from this will also go to the Margaret Kerr Unit.”

Staff and the wider school community have already raised more than £200, although donations are still being collected and added up.

The final total is due to be counted today, December 21, by Hayley, a pupil at Burnfoot Community School.

Mary, a mother of three, also leaves two sons, Leigh and Thomas.