The Katharine Elliot Centre (KEC) in Hawick has celebrated an incredible 50 years of service to the Teviot and Liddesdale community.

Over 60 service users, staff, family carers and other invited guests gathered at the Howdenbank setting on 5 October to commemorate the occasion with celebrations including a tree planting ceremony and burial of a time capsule. A buffet lunch was followed by a disco, which had been a special request of service users.

A Rowan tree was chosen to plant in honour of Baroness Katharine Elliot of Harwood after whom the centre was named. Born in 1903, she was the daughter of Scottish industrialist and politician, Sir Charles Tenant. She married Walter Elliot of Harwood near Bonchester Bridge in 1934. Following her husband’s death in 1958, she became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was the first woman to speak in the modern House of Lords. She died aged 90 in 1994 and is buried at Hobkirk parish church.

The tree planting ceremony was led by Frances Turnbull and Blair King. Frances has been attending the KEC for the past 50 years while Blair is currently one of the centre’s youngest members.

Frances said: “I’m the longest service user still coming to the KEC and I’m very happy to have planted the tree for the celebration.”

Blair added: “It’s been a big celebration and I think it was a good idea to plant a tree. I’m really happy at the KEC and enjoy coming three days a week.”

Family carer, Anne Molloy joined the celebrations with her son Russell who started coming to the KEC 35 years ago when he was 20. She said: “Russell used to come at a time there were around 100 people in attendance. Things have changed quite a lot over the years but he still very much enjoys his two days a week when he likes to participate in a range of various activities.

“I also enjoy coming along to events that the KEC puts on. Whether it’s a coffee morning or something more special such as the Queen’s Jubilee or the coronation for King Charles III, they always make you feel very welcome and included.”

Special guests, Councillor Stuart Marshall and Councillor Watson McAteer with service users.

Councillor David Parker, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The Katharine Elliot Centre continues to be an integral and much-loved part of the Hawick community and it is absolutely right that this occasion has been commemorated in such a special way.

“All those who have been involved with the KEC over these past years will have their own memories of the place and the people who together make up this special and unique community. Staff and service users worked incredibly hard to make this a day that was worthy of those memories and it was wonderful to see all those who were able to present enjoying being part of it all.”