IT’S the end of an era for a long-serving community stalwart in Galashiels – and the beginning of a new one.

Tracey Alder is calling time on her role as secretary of the town's community council after 16 demanding but rewarding years.

In recent times she has formed a formidable partnership with community council chair Judith Cleghorn – the pair working on the principle that “two heads are better than one”.

Now she has decided to throw all her eggs in one basket in her ever-increasing role at the town’s Focus Centre, where community council meetings are now held.

Tracey said: “I’m now putting all my efforts into running the Focus Centre. I’m in charge of all the bookings.

“The secretary’s job is the most important one on the community council with emails coming in on a daily basis, whether it’s from roads, planning, from all different departments of SBC who want you to put something to the community council.

"My inbox is full every day and it’s a lot of pressure and to be honest, it’s a full time job.

“I do it for the love of the community. The community council was supposed to be the voice between the public of Galashiels and Scottish Borders Council, that is its main role and in the beginning, yes it was.

"I would say in the last six years we have done nothing but try to be there for the community but everything we have done has got thrown back in our faces.

“We tried our hardest with Christmas events and then Judith got blamed for the small size of the Christmas tree which had absolutely nothing to do with her.

"We’re volunteers, why do we have to put up with this? So I was getting a little disillusioned.”

West Bromwich-born Tracey arrived in Galashiels back in 2006 and flung herself almost immediately into community life.

But she admits that the change of culture took some time getting used to.

She explained: “I went to my first community council meeting in 2007 and I didn’t have a clue when they used to go on about the Policies (a community woodland in Galashiels) –  I thought it was an insurance policy!

"Things used to go over my head. I used to think ‘where is this and what is that’ and I’d get on Google when I got home to work it all out.

“But I threw myself into it whole-heartedly because it was brilliant and I used to love it.

"We used to hold meetings at the Burgh Chambers then, but it was freezing cold and we moved to the Focus Centre a couple of years before COVID.”

Tracey thanked her first CC chairman Bill White, who “threw me in at the deep end”, and also her sparring partner Judith, adding: “We haven’t always agreed but we have always sorted out our issues and I believe, and would like to think Judith feels the same, we have been a good team.”

She added: “Now new challenges are ahead for me.”