Friends remember John McGuff with photography show

FRIENDS of former Midlothian County Councillor John McGuff have put together an exhibition of his photographs to honour his love of local history, following his recent death, aged 82.

The photographs went on display in Newtongrange Library, Midlothian, on Wednesday. They show children at Newtongrange Children's Galas in the 1960s taking part in games and competitions.

Mr McGuff was chairman of the Children's Gala Committee in the 1960s and 1970s, and was well-known for his contributions to the former mining village.

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After completing his two years' National Service he took up work with the National Coal Board as a blacksmith at the Newbattle Central Workshops.

He also went into business with his brother Dave, opening two gift shops – D and J Bargains – in Newtongrange and Gorebridge and running a stall at some of the local markets.

Despite being born in neighbouring Gorebridge, Mr McGuff had made Newtongrange his home, and joked that one of the best things about his adopted community was that being born up the road was never held against him.

He lived in Newtongrange with his wife Jessie, who died in 2007. Never blessed with a family of their own, they poured their efforts into work with the local community.

Mr McGuff was a prominent member of the local Labour Party and served on Midlothian County Council. He was also a member of the last Newbattle Parish Council, where as vice chairman he pushed through the building of the Newbattle Swimming Pool.

Midlothian's first pool, still open today, was a formidable challenge for such a small council, and it made Newbattle the envy of surrounding villages when it opened in an age of strikes and cuts.

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His health began to fail five years ago, and he was eventually moved to Grange Hall Nursing Home in the Scottish Borders with the help of family friends. He passed away there on 24 March.

Friend Jim Green said: "As a young man I joined the Newbattle Council in the late 1960s and John always encouraged me to get involved in community issues.

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"He took a great interest with what was going on with the community throughout his life. Even into his 70s he served on the Castle Rock Housing Association Committee.

"He was an old-fashioned socialist but not in the political sense. He just tried to lead by example and everything he did was for the community."

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