A kenspeckle figure in Melrose and a man of many friends

Former Galashiels bank manager Ian Hewat, who died in March.Former Galashiels bank manager Ian Hewat, who died in March.
Former Galashiels bank manager Ian Hewat, who died in March. | User (UGC)
Ian Forbes Blair Hewat, also affectionately known as Neish, was born on July 4, 1942.

While proud to have been born in Selkirk, he was at heart a Melrose man with many amusing anecdotes of the town and its people.

Primary schooling began at Melrose Grammar then to Galashiels in 1957, and while intelligent enough, he conceded he was not the most committed of pupils.

“Behold this dreamer cometh”, said the Academy’s magazine.

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One of Ian's happiest early memories as children of Douglas Road in Melrose celebrate VE Day on May 8, 1945. They are, back row from left: Graham Lawrie,Jim Purves, David Lawrie and John Hart. Front row from left: Elizabeth Purves, Ian Hewat, Sally Hewat ,Ronnie Inglis and Sheila Inglis. Seated on ground: Duncan Lawrie.One of Ian's happiest early memories as children of Douglas Road in Melrose celebrate VE Day on May 8, 1945. They are, back row from left: Graham Lawrie,Jim Purves, David Lawrie and John Hart. Front row from left: Elizabeth Purves, Ian Hewat, Sally Hewat ,Ronnie Inglis and Sheila Inglis. Seated on ground: Duncan Lawrie.
One of Ian's happiest early memories as children of Douglas Road in Melrose celebrate VE Day on May 8, 1945. They are, back row from left: Graham Lawrie,Jim Purves, David Lawrie and John Hart. Front row from left: Elizabeth Purves, Ian Hewat, Sally Hewat ,Ronnie Inglis and Sheila Inglis. Seated on ground: Duncan Lawrie. | User (UGC)

He had happy memories of ‘Jungle Jim’ Gray (geography), ‘Ma’ Scott (maths) and Charlie Rodgers (science), and the school equipped him for his chosen path.

Leaving early, in June 1960 he joined the British Linen Bank in Melrose and always proud of this bank of yesteryear.

After Edinburgh and London in 1987 he returned as senior manager of Bank of Scotland, Galashiels, and participated in local life with Age UK, Melrose Pipe Band, the local Co-op and The Blackstock Trust, and was known to wear the Santa suit at Melrose Primary.

He was a long-standing (non-playing) member of Melrose RFC, with his lively hospitable open-house on sevens day much enjoyed by family and friends.

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He loved golf and accompanied his parents from tghe age of four. Boyhood competition was fun and fierce and caddying for older members was pocket-money.

He was honoured to be captain in 1968 and 2000 and also relished the double in 1969 when he won the men’s championship and his mother was ladies’ champion.

Sport aside, he was a man of many friends and a measure of his popularity may be found in his being best-man nine times.

The well-spring of Ian’s happy life was his parents John and Elma, who moved to the region in the 1930s. Ian was 13 when his father died very unexpectedly.

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Warmth and humour were his hallmarks ... he was delightfully mischievous. He had personality and character, and his disposition was outgoing and generous.

He was special to his late sister Sally and his younger brother Sandy (whose tribute to Neish concluded: “it’s the end of an era, right enough,thanks for everything, brother.”

He was a treasured brother-in-law, uncle and great-uncle and will live on in the memories of all who knew him.

Ian met Liz in Edinburgh and 38 wonderful years later they were married in February 2020. To Liz, he was a precious husband, a mentor, a wise counsellor, the truest friend, and Ian will always be alive in her heart.

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Ian died peacefully at home, aged 77, on March 23, having been diagnosed with cancer in November.

His burial on April 1 had to be private, but church bells tolled, flags were at half-mast, townspeople applauded the cortege from the Weirhill and through Melrose and Newstead, where, to a haunting lament on the bagpipes, the hearse made its way to the Wairds cemetery.

There, Ian was laid to rest alongside his parents and his sister, and an affectionate and fitting graveside committal was led by the Rev. Rosie Frew.

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