Tributes paid to Melrose pensioner and guide dog trainer Betty Brown

Betty, left, and Alison pictured with their training dogs in 2008.
Betty, left, and Alison pictured with their training dogs in 2008.

Tributes have been paid to a Melrose lady, who dedicated more than 50 years of her life to training guide dogs, following her death last week.

Betty Brown has been hailed one of the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity’s most prolific and longest serving volunteers.

Betty and Alison Brown at home in 2010.

Betty and Alison Brown at home in 2010.

She died peacefully at home in Melrose last Saturday, May 18, aged 92.

Rosheen Milner, the charity’s puppy training supervisor, said: “Along with her late sister Alison, Betty set an incredible 98 puppies on their journeys to becoming life-changing guide dogs spanning over 50 years.

“It all started over 50 years ago in 1966 when Betty read an article about the urgent need for volunteers to instil basic obedience in would-be Guide Dogs at a tender age.

“Betty recalls thinking ‘We were brought up around animals so we thought, why not’ and so soon took charge of her first puppy, Jeanie.”

In an interview with the Southern Reporter in 2008, Betty said: “It’s our job to prepare the dog for the working life that lies ahead, so we take them on buses, across busy roads and into shops both in Melrose and in Galashiels.

“We even take them to church on Sundays.”

At the time Alison and Betty prided themselves on only 15 of their training puppies ever having failed to make the grade as guide dogs.

The pair, who ran a market gardening business at Greenyards until 2002 raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity, mainly by selling merchandise at local shows.

Betty was also the chairperson for the Roxburgh fundraising group and was awarded an MBE for her services to charity.

In 2010 the sisters were rewarded for their contribution to the charity and were invited to lay the foundation stone at the new National Breeding Centre in Lamington Spa.

Rosheen added: “Their commitment to Guide Dogs is a truly remarkable achievement which reflects utter dedication to the cause. I was privileged to know them and work alongside them.

“I personally enjoyed visiting Greenyards and fondly recall our many blethers, even occasionally talking about the pups.”

Betty had two other late siblings, Colin and Eelin, and is survived by her nieces and nephews.

A private cremation takes place next Friday, May 31 followed by a service at Melrose Parish Church at 12.30pm.

Donations may be made, if desired, to Guide Dogs for the Blind.