Selkirk Merchant Company has chosen John Nichol as its 2016 ‘Personality of the Year’.
He received the James Oliver Memorial Award at the company’s winter function, held in Selkirk Rugby Club’s Philiphaugh Suite on Friday night.
The award recognises the exceptional and varied contribution John has made to the Selkirk community over the years, not only as a talented entertainer and writer, but through his work with local schools on historical projects and by his continuing involvement with the Haining Charitable Trust.
Before presenting him with the James Oliver Shield, Merchant Company Master Douglas Hogarth told members and guests how John ‘had always gone the extra mile’ for the Selkirk community, was a born entertainer, and was one of the best-known figures in the town.
John, who was Selkirk Merchant Company Standard Bearer in 1994, also received a commemorative framed certificate from this year’s incumbent, David Amos.
John was born in Selkirk and attended Knowepark Primary and Selkirk High Schools.
He graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in ecological science, and after a short spell teaching in Dundee returned to the Borders to take up a post at Jedburgh Grammar School, where he taught biology for the next 30 years.
He took to the stage at an early age, becoming a prominent member of both Selkirk Amateur Operatic Society and the Selkirk Players.
He went on to play many leading roles for the Rowan Tree Theatre Company, before founding his own performing group, the IDEOMS Theatre Company.
He and his fellow ators and musicians regularly tour popular Burns shows around the Borders, take part in Scott’s Selkirk, and stage productions at the Edinburgh Fringe, the latest being John’s critically acclaimed “Soddin’ Flodden” play.
John was accompanied at Friday night’s function by his mother Jean, son Adam and daughter Eilidh.
After the ceremony, John said it was a great honour to receive the award, which on a personal level had a special poignancy.
He said: “Jim Oliver was a superb help to me when I was the Merchant Company’s Standard Bearer, and a great many other people have supported and assisted me along the way.
“The award means a great deal to me, and I would like to thank the Company’s members for all their good wishes.”
John didn’t have long to rest on his laurels, however, for within minutes he was up on stage singing his self-penned, quirky and local-themed songs, later joining forces with fellow entertainers Gael Force to create an unforgettable night of song and laughter.
Previous winners 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 and Edith Scott.