George Easton: 1924-2014 – an appreciation

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George Easton was born in 1924 at Todrig, the family farm of 1,500 acres of hill ground in the hills to the west of Ashkirk.

Todrig is a remote and sometimes unforgiving part of the Borders where any living will always be hard won. George was one of three brothers and after schooling at Ashkirk, and later boarding at Blynlee in Galashiels, his natural progression in life was to Todrig, which became his life for the rest of his working days.

For as long as anyone could recall, the only sheep for George and Todrig was the South Country Cheviot, which always did well on his ground. He was held to be a good “kenner” of sheep and always worth watching at sales, where he bought and sold sheep with impeccable judgement. But it was not all hard work. In the social life of those early days, George was a regular attender at dances, proving himself to be an agile and accomplished dancer, much in demand by the ladies, who found his dapper dress style with a trademark buttonhole rose much to their liking. George was also a keen sportsman and an excellent marksman, a fact that was not always good news for the local fox and vermin population.

A man of very individual temperament, George was a well-known figure in Borders agriculture who would always go out of his way to help anyone in trouble; although his rather direct approach to life was often misread by those who did not know him well.

In the late 1960s George courted and married Eileen Gilliland, a physiotherapist with the Borders Education Service for whom she waged a successful campaign against flat feet among schoolchildren, inevitably earning herself the soubriquet of the “Futt Wumman!” George and Eileen had many happy years at Todrig, where visitors were welcomed with a cup of strong tea and excellent home baking, perchance a dram for those of such preference.

In later life, George continued to farm in his usual style at Todrig. In his periodic visits to local towns he was easily spotted due to a long flowing white beard and a tendency to lengthy, loud conversations as his hearing progressively faded.

As time passed, George and Eileen suffered ill health and George had to yield to his passing years, eventually going into the excellent care at St Andrew’s Nursing Home at Hawick shortly before Eileen passed away. At St Andrew’s, George was a popular resident for the last six years of his life, receiving visitors with his usual cheer.

George died peacefully on Friday, August 8, in his 90th year. With his passing the Borders lost another of the remaining few farmers of the tough hill country breed, a grand Scot, but above all else a true Borderer, the like of which we might never see again.

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