50th Anniversary

2021 is Bavs’ 50th Anniversary

Watch these pages for events and activities that we are planning to celebrate Bavs, our amazing members and Berwickshire.

To start with, some history from our current President of the Board George Megahy who has been involved with Bavs since its inception in 1971.

Bavs Beginnings

Back in the mid 1960s, the Scottish Office provided funds to the then Scottish Council of Social Service (SCSS) to help residents in rural areas of Scotland to become actively involved in the provision and delivery of services that would improve their lives. (A similar initiative was in operation in England.)

The SCSS decided that this development could best be carried out by establishing local voluntary organisations that would be a partnership of voluntary organisations, community groups, statutory bodies and individuals. The new organisations would be called Councils of Social Service( CSS ).  To carry out this development, the SCSS recruited a team of workers experienced in community development, known as Rural Community Development Officers.

The first of the developments were in Arran, Clackmannanshire, East Ross and the Black Isle, North West Sutherland. and Skye. The late Colonel Sir William Swan, HML Blackhouse and the late Mr TD Thomson, Coldingham, suggested that such an organisation should be formed in Berwickshire.

In the late 1960s, a series of meetings was held with the aim of setting up a network of local community associations which could then work together to provide for the needs of the county. This approach met with some resistance. It was said that there was a distinct “whiff of feudalism” in the air, which made itself felt in the various meetings. It led to this approach being abandoned.

During the latter part of 1970, fresh discussions were held to consider setting up a CSS. These informal discussions resulted in a meeting of interested parties being held on 1st July 1971.
After considering the proposal, it was unanimously agreed by all those present – representatives of around 30 organisations, local authorities and interested individuals. It was agreed in principle to form a CSS. A Steering Committee was formed to plan a programme of activities, draft a constitution and consider how it would be financed.

The Steering Committee fed back to a public meeting on 24th November 197 in the Volunteer Hall, Duns, attended by more than 100 people. The Steering Committee’s report was discussed. One speaker compared the proposal to the organisations that had de-stabilised the established order in Italy and brought Mussolini to power – a “whiff of feudalism”! The Steering Committee’s Report was accepted by a large majority and an Executive Committee was formed. Colonel Swan was elected President and Mr Thomson, Chairman.

Getting started

An application for a grant of £1,460.00, which was supported by the SCSS, was submitted to the London-based Development Commission, through the Scottish Office This grant, together with other donations, enabled the appointment of Mrs Diane Douglas, Eyemouth, as part-time organiser who worked from her home.

An ambitious programme of activities and services was planned and delivered. It included organising holiday games weeks based in Eyemouth, Chirnside, Coldstream, Duns and Greenlaw.

John Home Robertson Chaired a CAB Sub Committee which operated from each of the four Burghs,. pre-school playgroups were established, support was given to the established Senior Citizens Clubs, a duplicating and typing service was established, a Federation of Village halls was formed, information was provided on the proposed Community Councils, a booklet was produced on benefit entitlement and information for the elderly and disabled, a disabled centre was established in the former school premises at Auchencrow, in cooperation with the Berwickshire Civic Society a ‘Keep Berwickshire Tidy ‘ campaign was launched and with the assistance of the Ranger Guides, a survey, of public buildings was carried to determine their suitability for access by disabled people. Meetings were held about the setting up of a Local Health Council and of the proposal to build a new hospital at Huntlyburn. BCSS played a leading role in setting up a Borders Federation of Councils of Social Service.

Major changes

1975 was a year of major changes. The four Counties in the Borders were abolished. The Berwickshire District Council was formed, without what had been the old West District Council Mr Thomson was replaced as Chairman by Mr Irving Inglis and Mrs Douglas by Mrs Fay Waddell, also of Eyemeouth.  The BCSs played a major role in providing information on Community Councils at public meetings, convened in towns and villages throughout the District. Disquiet was expressed at the lack of consultation on the proposals to set up school and college councils and of the small number of places for parents representation .

The Borders Regional Council paid no heed to to our complaints. A Local Health Council Territorial Group was set up to consider local issues, this was in response to our request for this. The Working Party. on Facilities for Young People Little progress was made through the lack of suitable voluntary leaders, though a youth club was formed in Chirnside with the support of the Parish Church. In 1978, Mrs Fay Waddell resigned as Organiser and was succeeded by Mrs Jane Stevens, Chirnside who worked from home.

Mr Myles Hogg succeeded Mr Inglis as Chairman , who in turn was succeeded by Rev Iain Patterson, Greenlaw Efforts to form a network of clubs for the elderly did not attract much support A programme of monthly ‘Soup and Cheese Lunches ‘was started, these were well supported.

The Executive took a decision of not automatically sending the Organising Secretary as it representative to various meetings, representatives would be first found from the Ex. C’ttee.. In 1984 Mr J. Veitch succeeded Rev Iain Patterson as Chairman and Mrs Stevens was succeeded as Organiser, by Mrs Pat Evans, Eyemouth. At national level, arrangements to fund Scottish CSS was radically changed, the Development Commission withdrew its interest, in preparation for devolution. This responsibility was taken on somewhat reluctantly, by the Social Work Services Group in the Scottish Office. This arrangement initially led to some tension between the SWSG and the CSS” until the SWSG accepted that CSS were not local social work agencies.

A Berwickshire Activity Bus Association was formed with independent funding, a bus was purchased and converted . TEDDA was operating independently as was the Duns Friendship Club and the Berwickshire Swimming Club for the Disabled., an Access Committee was formed and the Insulation and Draught Proofing Project received funding, which employed 5 staff, it ran for 45 weeks, draught proofed 34 homes ad insulated 24 lofts. Mrs Enid Elphinston, Foulden was elected Chairman.

In 1988, The name was changed from the Berwickshire Council of Social Service, to BAVS, an office was opened in Duns, rented from the WRVS. A Volunteer Bureau was formed as an integral part of BAVS, with is own part-time paid Organiser. A Community Directory was produced, Mrs L. Rutherford, Lauder, was elected Chairman. Col Swan, President died in 1990. Mrs Enid Elphinston was elected President. Membership was between 80 and 90 Mrs Scobie, VOL B. Organiser resigned and was succeeded by Miss Joyce Veitch A Charities Market was held in Duns. Miss Veitch left her post and was succeeded by Mrs D. Higham.

The firsT ‘ Thrift Shop opened in Eyemeouth.  A stand was taken at the Duns Agricultural Show. Mr John Baxter, Westruther was elected Chairman. Mrs Freda Hamilton succeeded. Mrs D Higham as Vol B. Org aniser. The office moved to Currie Street..We were required to merge our V B. with the other three in the Borders. National funding arrangements changed, SWSG withdrew and funding came from the Borders Local Rural Partnership. In 1996, single local authority replaced the five local councils.

– George Megahy, President of the Bavs Board of Trustees