Drew gave ‘total commitment’

Heartfelt tributes have been paid following the death of former Scottish Borders Council leader Drew Tulley.

Drew Tulley was a ferocious supporter of his hometown Galashiels.
Drew Tulley was a ferocious supporter of his hometown Galashiels.

Known in local political circles as a force to be reckoned with, Mr Tulley served in many roles in local governance following a career as a fireman.

He died last week aged 82.

The former leader of Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council went on to lead Scottish Borders Council when it was formed in 1995.

Drew Tulley, far right, with the Galashiels in Bloom group in 2013. From left: Fraser Dunlop, Johnny Gray, Judith Cleghorn and Bill White.

He resigned from that position in 2002, and did not stand in the council elections the following year, he later joined Galashiels Community Council in 2016, and stuck to his desire to hold elected members to account.

The man who took over from Mr Tulley as council leader in 2002, John Ross Scott of Hawick, says Mr Tulley was a mentor to him in his political career.

Mr Scott told us: “I was so sad to hear of the death of one of my early political mentors and a fellow creator of the Rainbow Alliance Administration on Scottish Borders Council.

“A former fireman and union representative, Drew served on Ettrick and Lauderdale District Council – latterly as leader – then joined me at the birth of Scottish Borders Council in 1995, where he took over as leader and I as chair of roads, transport and technical services.

“We served together for seven years in those roles before I took over as leader in 2002 after the education crisis led to his resignation.

“Drew then served as opposition leader, providing phenomenal governance on issues such as housing stock transfer, the recovery plan and in my work on the Borders Railway.

“He was a fighter.

“If he believed in a cause he would fight for it with his firebrand style.

“His heart was in the Borders and nationally over many years he was a top ambassador for the region.

“He was fair, friendly and supportive, but could also show his teeth when that was required.

“When the Borders Railway debate was at its zenith in 2000, Drew, as a stanch Gala man and leader of the council, could easily have just accepted that the railway should stop at Galashiels – which was what many civil servants wanted – but he supported the more adventurous option put forward by myself and the late councillor Bob Jack from Kelso to take it through Galashiels.

“Extending the railway just to Tweedbank gave future generations the chance to push for the line to go even further.

“Although I have not seen him in a while, I will always remember him as a key player in my political life. R.I.P auld friend.”

Judith Cleghorn, the chair of Galashiels Community Council, said Mr Tulley helped her settle into her job, thanks to his “wealth of knowledge”.

She said: “Drew was a community councillor for several years and was always honest and forthright in his views.

“He had a wealth of knowledge about Galashiels and I was very grateful for the guidance and help he gave me as a very new and inexperienced chair.

“He always cared passionately for Galashiels and the community and will be sadly missed by many.

“Our sympathies go out to his family at this sad time.”

Mr Tulley was also a ferocious supporter of Gala RFC, and a keen volunteer in the town ... in latter years helping out with Gala in Bloom’s ‘Thursday Squad’.

Johnny Gray a fellow member, told us: “I worked with Drew both during my professional life and in our retirement years on numerous voluntary projects.

“Many people may find it strange when I say, that given his very public image through his involvement in local politics, he could be a very private person and his generosity and kindness to many will never be known.

“In recent years, Gala in Bloom, Braw Lads Gathering, Gala Burns Club, St Peters Church and Gala Rotary Club have all benefited from his involvement.

“What you had to recognise about Drew was his attitude that ‘if a job’s worth doing its worth doing right’ ... and now!

“If one fell short, he did not suffer fools gladly.

“Drew was a serving member of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and in my opinion lived a life true to their motto.

“Once a Borderer – always a Borderer“ because during his life he served town, county, district, region and country, and gave total commitment to them all.

“The Thursday Squad send their condolences to his friends and family.