Beloved Scottish campaigner who fought closure of old Waverley Line and pushed for Borders Railway reopening dies

Madge Elliot – a campaigner who helped drive the reopening of the Borders Railway – has died

A community stalwart who was behind a campaign for the restoration of the Borders Railway has died at the age of 95, her family has announced.

For almost half a century, Madge Elliot campaigned tirelessly against the closure of the Edinburgh-Hawick-Carlisle Waverley line in 1969 and was a founding member of the Campaign for Borders Rail.

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Her efforts came to fruition when the line reopened to Tweedbank in 2015 and Mrs Elliot, from Hawick, had a railway carriage named after her in recognition of her brilliant work.

Madge Elliot MBE pictured at the carriage named after herMadge Elliot MBE pictured at the carriage named after her
Madge Elliot MBE pictured at the carriage named after her

Despite a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s, the campaigner continued to fight for worthy causes.

Just weeks ago she was invited to reopen the Teviot Day Service for the elderly in her hometown of Hawick, which had been closed illegally by Scottish Borders Council.

The campaign to restore the service was led by Mrs Elliot’s son Sean, who has described his mum as “inspirational”.

He said: “After a ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s, our inspirational mum, Madge, succumbed to a combination of old age and this awful disease on Saturday morning.

“Truly a life well lived, she gave so much time to the community, not just in terms of the railway campaigning – well documented elsewhere – but a huge contribution to tennis, in partnership with our dad, Bob, and a whole host of other campaigns and volunteering roles over her lifetime, too many to list.

“She loved Wilton Park and spent so much time at the tennis courts, playing, coaching, organising juniors, matches and competitions, as well as managing the courts when the council would no longer provide a court attendant.

“She loved to see young people playing sport. We’re very glad she was able to attend the re-opening of Teviot Day Service a few weeks ago, the last campaign she was involved in.

“We will certainly miss her.”

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Mrs Elliot collected a petition of 11,768 signatures during a concerted campaign to keep a railway line in the Borders in the 1960s.

She would join with her 11-year-old son Kim and Liberal MP David Steel at the time to deliver the petition to Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Downing Street on December 18, 1968.

Mrs Elliot was separately awarded an MBE in 1998 for her services to lawn tennis in the Borders, in a sign of her wider contribution to the community, which included regular volunteer work.

The Borders Railway, which she would later campaign heavily for, was ultimately opened in September 2015 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The line, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, was initially beset with problems, including overcrowding and service disruption, but passenger numbers boomed in the years following its opening and pressure to improve the capacity of the railway has grown.

A potential extension has been considered as part of the UK hovernment’s review of cross-border links, the Union Connectivity Review, spearheaded by the former chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy.

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