Two decades after three large lorries deposited half-a-million daffodil bulbs to create the Borders Field of Hope, the mile-long sea of blooms near Melrose continues to prove a colourful backdrop to one of the region’s biggest annual charity fund-raising events.
And this year’s ‘golden mile’ walk, held on Sunday and which attracted 180 people, plus another 30 who did the accompanying 10km event, also saw a special luncheon to mark the Borders Field of Hope’s 20th anniversary.
Over the intervening years, hundreds of walkers have turned out and raised thousands of pounds for the charity behind the project, Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Five years after the original 90 tons of bulbs were planted for a mile alongside the Melrose bypass, another 250,000 were planted along the footpath from Tweedbank to the old railway station, close to the entrance for the Borders General Hospital.
The main co-ordinator of the project was the charity’s then Borders fund-raising manager, Anne Macintyre, from Kelso.
Anne retired five years ago from the post, but is still involved, still supporting the cause she remains so passionate about.
On Sunday, she addressed the 40 specially-invited guests who attended the luncheon which was held at the BGH.
Anne told the gathering that it was thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers, that the bulbs were planted over a three-month period late in 1993.
Among them were Royal Mail workers, council staff, youngsters from the army cadets and school pupils, as well as representatives of many other organisations and individuals.
The first year of the appeal to raise money to create the Field of Hope saw £135,000 gathered in, and a further £100,000 generated over the 20 years since.
Patron of the appeal was the late, great rugby broadcaster, Bill McLaren, who said at the time: By uniting in another common cause, I believe that together we can help the Borders Branch of Marie Curie Cancer Care to continue to provide the care, comfort and commitment that has meant so much to so many patients, their families and friends.”
And that is exactly what the Field of Hope has managed to achieve.
It remains a constant symbol of hope, as well as standing as a highly visible annual reminder of the charity’s efforts to care for those with this most terrible of conditions.
“It was my great privilege to be involved in the beginning and very humbling to meet and make friends with so many special people who offered their help in so many ways,” Anne told the anniversary luncheon guests.
Speaking to The Southern this week, Anne, who paid tribute to her husband Malcolm for his unstinting support of her charity work over the years, said the Field of Hope remained an inspiration.
“I didn’t think, when we first started the Field of Hope project, that 20 years later it would still be as amazing as it is.
“The level of support from people over that time, for the annual walks and everything else, has been fantastic.”
It was Anne who originally set up the Borders branch of Marie Curie Cancer Care in 1989, after her father died from cancer and she wanted some way to repay the help given by the charity.
“The charity had adopted the daffodil as its sign of the hope that one day there will be a cure for all cancers.
“The Borders Field of Hope is now one of the biggest in the whole of the UK and all those involved over the years should be very proud of themselves,” she told us.
“Marie Curie Nurses mean there is care available to let someone dying from cancer remain at home and that has now been opened out to anyone with a terminal illness.
“The Borders Field of Hope is a symbol that there is always hope and that there is always care and support for those with cancer and their families.
“And it remains a wonderful inspiration even after all these years.”