Obituary – Eric Taylor, former police inspector

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Friends, former colleagues and family members came together last week to mark the passing of retired police inspector Eric Taylor.

Eric had a long and distinguished service, having been stationed at Melrose, Lauder, Hawick and Galashiels in a career that spanned 30 years.

A well-liked family man with two sons and a daughter, seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, he had spent the last few years of his life being cared for by daughter Linda, a retired Macmillan nurse, and her husband, Dr John Tucker, at their home on the outskirts of Melrose, after the death of his wife Sybil almost 10 years ago.

The couple had previously lived together at Forest Gardens in Galashiels for many years following his retirement from the force in 1974. Eric died on December 20, just three days after enjoying the company of his extended family at the annual pre-Christmas get-together they all looked forward to as an annual event.

Despite his advancing years – he was 97 – he was still active, enjoyed regular nights out at musical events, and particularly loved the company of the younger ones around him.

Therefore, his sudden death came as a big shock to those who knew him.

He was born in 1920 into the mining community of Ormiston, East Lothian, and had two sisters and six brothers, most of whom worked down the pit.

Eric had other ideas, however, and in his early adult life was a fine pianist who seemed to have a bright future ahead of him.

The outbreak of the Second World War put an end to that. He enlisted and saw active service (The Royal Corps of Signals) both at home and in North Africa, ending his service as a Sgt Major before returning to civvy life at the end of hostilities.

He started his police service as a PC in Melrose, where he met Sybil, whose parents had The Dryburgh Arms Hotel in Newtown St Boswells, and they married in 1949.

Life in the Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk Constabulary suited him and he worked his way up through the ranks to be promoted to Inspector.

Those who served beside him learned to respect an officer with a firm hand and good old-fashioned values. He for many, epitomised that which was expected of a police officer and only the foolhardy would ever have dared to challenge his authority.

Fitba crazy, he was a lifelong Hearts supporter. His club’s victory over Celtic on the very day his family gathered around him on December 17, provided an additional excuse for even greater celebration.

He is survived by his sons, David, a prominent environmental regeneration consultant, retired fireman Douglas and daughter Linda.

A large gathering attended to bid farewell at Trinity Church in Galashiels on December 28, as much a celebration of his life and public service as an event to mourn his passing.

Interment took place at Eastlands Cemetery in Galashiels.

A collection at the church was held to provide support for Gala Wheels Community Transport – an organisation whose support he had grown to appreciate.