by John Sheldon
I've not been in the Yester School grounds for a very long time and was astounded to discover the 'conker' tree in the boundary hedge border.
Sir Nicholas Fairburn QC was brought up in Gifford and looked after by a Mrs Jennings. Her son still lives in the village. When she died Fairburn wanted a tree planted at the school in her memory and donated a Horse Chestnut sapling. I was something in the Gifford Horticultural Society at the time and was asked by a member of the Community Council to carry out the planting. There was no consultation with the council but I knew that the safest place would be in the boundary- well away from the grass mower and hidden from the eyes of council officials. So it was planted although the location wasn't exactly what was anticipated by the Community Council. That apart I'm sure a 'conker' tree would not now be on the approved list of species to be planted in a Primary School ground- by those that have to assess these things! However, once planted, that was it. It was not watered or tended and so forgotten. But,there it is. Growing splendidly and obviously producing an annual crop of conkers!
Sir Nicholas was a bit of a rogue and maybe the selection of the species reflected that but he would have hoped that it would grow into a fine tree and produce conkers for the joy of future generations of children. I hope it will!
Fairburn was also to become an MP for a Fife constituency.
Mrs Jennings’ son, Derek, was the main volunteer who helped erect the village Christmas tree when the Horticultural Soc. was fully responsible for it in my Presidential reign. I recall ringing around estates to donate the tree during those years and a number of us helped with the physical bit. Great fun- ending up in the Goblin. The lights were stored at the Yester sawmill along with all the show kit. Derek managed them for some time until the Community Council took over. Happy days.