Rescuers’ reward may be the sack

It often seems that in the quiet little backwater that is the Borders, we are insulated from the natural disasters and conflicts that seem to plague many other parts of the world.

But if we ever needed reminding that nowhere is immune from tragedy, the last two weeks have provided it in spades.

Firstly, we had the earthquake which ripped apart much of the New Zealand city of Christchurch last week. Given the Borders’ close links with the Land of the Long White Cloud, it was no surprise when journalists on TheSouthern started receiving numerous calls from Borderers with family either living in New Zealand or on holiday there.

Then chaos erupted in Libya – not normally a country regarded as having much connection with this region. However, as people travel further and further afield in efforts to improve their livelihoods, it was inevitable that some Borders residents would get caught up in the unfolding civil violence in the North African state.

We have heard how St Boswells builder Jeremy Grieve had to flee hundreds of miles across the desert to safety, while one young Hawick woman escaped the country aboard an Royal Air Force Hercules transport aircraft.

Ameera Gemberlu, just 21, endured days of fear and uncertainty before her mother back in Hawick and uncle in Libya worked together to get her on board the plane.

Ironically, Ameera’s RAF rescuers could now be among the 11,000 airmen, sailors and soldiers facing the sack thanks to the decision by the British Government to axe their jobs to save money during the next four years.

As the world gets ever smaller, it is the wrong time to be shrinking the size of our armed forces.