ONE of the true champions of the Upperward church and community, Jean Gibson, has died. She was in her 85th year.
In the quarter of a century she spent living in Clydesdale, Jean built up a record of voluntary service that others would have taken a whole lifetime to achieve.
Born in Edinburgh in 1929, her first few years were spent being brought up by her grandmother in Banffshire where she acquired a lifelong love of the countryside and gardening.
After returning to Edinburgh to complete her schooling, she joined the former British Linen bank in 1945, aged 15.
She worked in various branches, and eventually retired from the Edinburgh Morningside Branch as secretary to the officials, after 40 years of service.
Still being a mere 55 years old, Jean started a new career, working for seven years in a private house caring for the elderly.
In 1988, she moved to Quothquan, where, according to a friend, “she spent among the happiest years of her life, with kind neighbours, a beautiful garden she loved and her dog Glen”.
She joined Libberton and Quothquan Church in 1989 and was quickly talked into becoming its treasurer, a position this ‘retired’ woman held for 23 years.
Her friend said of her: “Under Jean’s careful stewardship, extensive maintenance was carried out on the church windows, roof and spire.
“New cushions were purchased for the pews, a new organ and a new lectern were installed and new carpets were fitted and the church painted and decorated.”
Described as “a born organiser and an innovator”, she tirelessly raised funds for good causes, holding fayres at the Gillespie Centre in Biggar, adding to donations by selling jumble from her garage at car boot sales.
She sold all her garden produce, made countless jars of jams, chutneys and marmalade to further boost funds and organised Garden Open Days, Harvest Suppers and Christmas Lunches.
Outside the kirk, the general community also benefited from this human dynamo, taking in to her own home the Quothquan Ladies Coffee Mornings when the village hall became unuseable and acting as the village’s own Good Samaritan, being friend and carer for several of the elderly villagers and a taxi driver, ferrying friends and neighbours to church, shops and hospital appointments.
She was also a long-serving member of Quothquan Rural and was president twice.
On Tuesday March 4, in Libberton & Quothquan Church, a Service of Thanksgiving was held in memory of Jean.
Rev George Shand acknowledged the “immense impact Jean had had, through her deep faith, on the church and her community in Quothquan”.
And Bryce McCosh, former Session Clerk, gave a very moving and heartfelt tribute to Jean, at the end of which the gathering broke into spontaneous applause.
It was a very well-deserved accolade.