HER many friends in Jedburgh and Hawick will be saddened to hear of the death of Jessie Scott whose long life and indomitable spirit brought much fulfilment to herself and great comfort to others.
She was three months short of her 100th birthday when she passed away peacefully at Weens House, Bonchester, on Tuesday, September 6.
From humble beginnings, Jessie Scott became a champion of the visually impaired, running numerous activities for their benefit in both towns. Before frailty took her to Weens four months ago, Jessie still made jam and baked scones for the cause at her home in Blackhills Close, Jedburgh.
Hard work was in Jessie’s genes.
Born a shepherd’s daughter on a farm between Yetholm and Wooler, Jessie Henderson was one of six children. When her mother fell into ill-health, 10-year-old Jessie did domestic chores before and after walking the three miles to school which she left, aged 13, to work on another farm.
When she was 16, she entered the service of an elderly doctor in Wooler and, two years later, met her future husband, Andrew Scott.
They married in 1933 when Andrew was a shepherd at Kersquarter near Kelso on a wage of £1 a week.
The couple later moved to Peel-a-nick near Hownam at the top of the Kale Valley and followed the work to various farms until ending up at Saughtree in Liddesdale in 1957. Their first son, Walter, died in infancy, but they had two more: Jim, who at 73 still helps out as a farm worker, and John, eight years his junior, who drove for Jedburgh toolmaker L. S. Starrett for many years and now manages a caravan park in Gretna.
A great family women Jessie doted on her grandchildren Tracey, Geoff and Lesley, and her five great-grandchildren.
Within six years of moving to Saughtree, Andrew Scott fell seriously ill, undergoing a brain operation which left him blind, and the family moved to Galalaw Road in Hawick where Jessie took a job in a mill as well as assisting with activities to help the blind.
She went on to organise and run the RNIB club in the town. The proceeds of numerous raffles and coffee mornings ensured that social afternoons were held twice a week.
When TheSouthern wrote about Jessie on her 90th birthday – celebrated with a helicopter flight over the Firth of Forth – she recalled: “Those coming along to the sessions learned how to make trays and baskets which were sold at sales tables and all the money went into a collection to take them away for a free holiday to Berwick.”
In 1988, Jessie and Andrew moved to Jedburgh where she also ran a local club, raising thousands of pounds to takes scores of blind people on trips to Blackpool. The couple became friends with Tom Pringle who was to become a large part of her life after Andrew died in 1991. Five years ago, in her 95th year, Jessie became the designated carer of Tom who had also lost his sight.
Last year Tom suffered a stroke and is now resident at a care home in Edinburgh.
“Jessie was alone again: a situation she found hard,” said the Rev Graham Astles at the packed funeral service in Jedburgh’s Old Parish Church.
Jessie, however, enjoyed being pampered in her final days at Weens where she was christened the “sherry queen” by staff who took her to their hearts.
She had seen many changes over 99 years, but she remained steadfast in her commitment to help others.
“It’s the way of the country,” she once said. “You look out for each other.”