Spotlight on Alan McNeilly

Why would someone volunteer to be Treasurer of the Community Council? Most people might think that such a person has a perverse delight in bean counting or perhaps a measure of insanity. So I asked the current incumbent, Alan McNeilly, why he has been Treasurer for over ten years and uncovered some interesting answers.

Alan is a scientist, he is a problem solver. When he sees a problem and can identify a potential solution, he will work tirelessly to connect the two. This is the way his mind works for his research and he admits that this is the way he approaches community actions as well. If Alan sees a particular problem in the community, he will do all he can to enable the finding of a solution. Often in this day and age, finding a solution means battling with bureaucracy and Alan has the skills to get to the heart of a problem and can see through the smoke and mirrors of current “project speak”.

Alan came to Stow with his wife and fellow scientist, Judy, in 1976. He had been offered a post in Edinburgh with the Medical Research Council. As they had been living in Canada, they had to find somewhere to live and with two small children they had to find somewhere quickly. They saw a house in Stow advertised in the Scotsman, came to view it and fell in love with the house and Stow. They saw the house on a Monday and had bought it by Thursday lunchtime! In due course, two more children came along.

Alan’s priorities are his family and his work but he knows from experience that a good community nourishes a good family life. They became good friends with the then Head Teacher, Derek Jones, and through this connection, Alan got involved in all kinds of outdoor activities for the school children. He also became a founder member of the The Galawater Outdoor Activities Club (which is still going strong) and was a member of the Stow Sports Week Committee.

As his children grew older, Alan’s willingness to help and apply energy to solving issues did not diminish. Many people knew that they could call on Alan to help out and whenever he was able, he did so. He was on the PTA and subsequently co-opted onto the School Boards of Stow Primary School and Galashiels Academy. He joined the Community Council over 20 years ago and amongst the many other Community Council initiatives he has been involved with, he was part of the sub-group that set up the children’s playpark that we still enjoy today.

Let’s hope that Alan continues to get energised by the challenges the village faces and that his generous nature allows him to step into the breach whenever Stow calls!

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