Abbotsford Meeting Speech

Convener James Aitken’s speech to members at the Chamber’s meeting held at the Abbotsford Visitor Centre on Thursday 17th January 2013

Good evening everyone.

My name is James Aitken and I am the current convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce. Firstly a thanks to Jason Dyer, Chief Executive, of the Abbotsford Trust who is our host this evening.  Jason will shortly give us a talk on what is clearly a magnificent venue.   Sean Connaughton, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, will then tell us more about Chamber benefits.

As someone who grew up very close to here, just across the water in Langlee, and now has a house in Tweedbank, it is great to see this new visitor centre.  I also have a connection with Abbotsford House.

Before I followed a certain Mr Scott into the world of law I was an apprentice electrician.  One of the houses I worked in during the early 1980’s was Abbotsford House.  I loved working here although that probably had more to do with my fascination with Scottish history rather than ancient power and lighting systems.

As a “pail merk” and a follower of past Braw Lads Gatherings I can also confirm that the connection Abbotsford House has with our common riding is just as important as ever.

I wrote a letter for a Southern Reporter a few months ago.  I must admit I was getting sick and tired of the negativity surrounding the Borders that seemed to fill the letters pages.  I mentioned the completion of our venue here tonight in that letter.  I simply wanted to point out that even in these extremely tough times great things are happening here in the Borders.

Some other examples:  Eyemouth Harbour can now receive cruise ships, our first crematorium is now in operation, a second is under construction, the Borders Book Festival, the Border Union Show, the new 3G sports arena, plans are now in place for a purpose-built mountain bike chairlift at Innerleithen, our common ridings, our “Sevens” tournaments, our first palliative care unit, a site has been found for the Bill McLaren museum and of course the start of construction on the railway line that should never have taken away in the first place.  Possibly with a station called Tweedbank Abbotsford?

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