Search and Rescue leader's 42 years' service recognised at surprise dinner

Sally Gillespie

SEARCH and rescue colleagues sprung a surprise dinner and presentation for their retired team leader in Kelso on Sunday.

Past and present Border Search and Rescue Unit members held the dinner for Jock McCraw – who thought he was going to an annual team outing – at the Cross Keys Hotel.

Lothian and Borders Chief Superintendent Charlie Common presented Jock with an engraved commemorative clock. The unit gave Jock an original wooden ice axe from the 1960s when the team were based at Yetholm police station, mounted and inscribed.

More than 50 people attended the dinner, including the Scottish mountain rescue committee chairman Alife Ingram and former Yetholm policeman and a unit founder member, Tony Robinson.

Jock retired as the unit's team leader in December, after 28 years.

A member since the unit's formal existence in 1963, Jock's only interruption in service from then was when he left with the army in 1965.

Deputy team leader, Stuart Fuller-Shapcott said: "To have been involved in search and rescue for 42 years is by any standards a remarkable demonstration of endurance.

"To have served as a unit leader for 28 years is nothing short of remarkable.

"It is no exaggeration to say that through the continuity of Jock's enthusiastic leadership, the unit has gone from strength to strength and continues to do so.

"Jock has attended just about every sort of incident from a number of military jet crashes and the Lockerbie disaster – which involved a massive amount of time in the lengthy clear-up operation across the south of Scotland – to some, thankfully, more light-hearted and amusing ones, like the walker completing the Pennine Way in just a pair of wellies!"

He added: "Originally from Hownam in the Cheviot Hills, Jock is a Borderer through and through. He is a 'weel kent' face throughout the unit's patch and, if he doesn't know whose land the unit is searching, he'll definitely be able to give directions for the shortest route to a pub!"