Farewell to ‘the Dowager’

Church or charity: should 'promised' funeral collections be shared?

Rosemary Alison Moore
A personal tribute

I THOUGHT and wrote of her as ‘the Dowager’ and Rosemary Alison Moore possessed all the dignity and grace of Northumberland farming ‘aristocracy’. No dowager Duchess, though:  Mrs Moore was noble in everything except title. The widow of highly-respected farmer Rob Moore, mother of two farming sons and three daughters who came back regularly to her home beside the family farm run by her son Bob at West Learmouth, she inspired respect and affection from all who knew her.

Now Mrs M is no more: she died after the briefest of illnesses in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Monday, March 18.

My friend Phil, Mrs  Moore’s son who farms Encampment and East Flodden near Cornhill on Tweed, is sad but properly philosophical: “She was nearly 88, still driving, required no regular medication, enjoyed a drink and a meal and she was ill for only her final 26 hours,” he told me upon breaking the upsetting news.

In truth, I did not know her well: apart from the occasions when we met by chance in the Cornhill Shop or, once, when our restaurant bookings coincided at the Red Lion in Milfield, our paths crossed only on the first day of each year.

For me, the Dowager‘s presence was the highlight of the New Year’s Day open house gathering at Encampment when Phil, the ‘Farmer Morebottle’ character who (dis)graced my years of Journal newspaper columns, rolled out a barrel of Black Sheep and an endless stream of ‘Tillside tapas’ for his grateful guests.

Joking and talking with Mrs Moore and at least two of her daughters – ‘the thirsty yin’ and ‘the skinny yin’ as the wretched Morebottle describes them – was an annual delight that warmed that most wintry of days. Ironically, she worried about my health – “It’s always a pleasant surprise each year to see you’re still here,” she would say – while I never gave a thought to hers, as strong and fit as she was despite advancing years.

Alas, this year was the first January gathering we had missed in recent times. New Year’s Day will never again seem such fun.

But the memories will linger long; knowing ‘the Dowager’ Mrs Moore has been a privilege.

Funeral: Thursday March 28, 11am at Cornhill parish church

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