The esteem in which Graham was held by the whole of Selkirk’s sporting community can be gauged by the fact he was awarded life memberships by no fewer than three of the town’s sports clubs – Selkirk Football Club (1980), Selkirk Rugby Club (1999) and Selkirk Cricket Club (2005).
Having played football for Selkirk in his younger days, Graham took an active interest in all of the town’s sporting organisations, regularly reporting on football, rugby, golf and cricket matches for the local and national press.
Another important role Graham played concerned the extensive research he undertook on the clubs’ behalf into their histories and record books. In 1980 he wrote the official history of Selkirk Football Club as part of the Ettrick Park outfit’s centenary celebrations, performing the same task for Selkirk Golf Club in 1983 to commemorate its centenary year.
This week Selkirk Rugby Club president Donald Macleod paid tribute to Graham’s involvement with the club: “He helped raise the profile of Selkirk RFC over many years through his reporting of matches and other club news. He was a true gentleman, totally unbiased, and well respected by players and committee members alike. He will be sadly missed.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by former Selkirk footballer Jackson Cockburn. “Graham had a vast knowledge of sport, and would go out of his way to help further Selkirk Football Club’s reputation and standing at every opportunity. He took a genuine interest in what went on at the club, and was always there to offer advice and encouragement.”
Selkirk Cricket Club chairman Chris Highton added: “Graham was an important figure at the club, and over the years helped the committee in a number of ways, for example by gathering information on the club’s internationalists and locating archive material to go on display in the clubrooms. He will be a big miss.”
David Charteris Graham Bateman was born in Bleachfield in 1919 – the first baby to be delivered in Selkirk by the newly arrived Dr Graham, after whom he was named. Having attended Knowepark Primary, Graham left school at the age of 14, and the following year was taken on as an apprentice printer by the “Southern Reporter” newspaper at its High Street offices.
At the outbreak of war in 1939 he enlisted with the KOSB, later being transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps, an elite section of the British Army whose units provided infantry divisions from the Far East to Europe. Graham was given a training role within the organisation, first of all being stationed near Lockerbie. It was here he met his future wife Nancy, a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service who at that time was employed as a clerk in the orderly room.
Graham and Nancy were both later transferred to the unit’s training centre at Catterick, where Graham rose to the rank of Sergeant Major and was awarded his parachute badge and wings. He was demobbed in 1944, marrying Nancy later that year. The couple settled back in Selkirk, and Graham returned to the “Southern Reporter” as print works foreman. He was to spend the rest of his working life in the paper’s press room, retiring in 1982.
Amongst Graham’s interests was a love of the countryside. From the age of seven he was a regular visitor to Shaw Farm on the outskirts of Selkirk, and would regularly help out with lambing and other seasonal tasks. He forged lifelong links with the farming communities of the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys, and was a familiar figure at agricultural shows.
A member of Selkirk Merchant Company since 1973, Graham always held a special affection for the Common Riding, and as a youngster would avidly watch his mother while she carried out repairs on the craft and casting organisations’ flags once the winter months.
A stickler for doing any job to the highest possible standards, Graham Bateman was a much loved Souter who helped enrich the life of the Selkirk community in countless ways. He is survived by his wife Nancy, daughter Doreen, son Derek, and by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The Royal & Ancient Burgh has lost a true and loyal servant.
– John Smail.