In memory of Roger Alexander


PARP! PARP! Roger trundles along the Poet’s Path in the yellow buggy touching his cap, a white linen one on sunny days and a tweed one at other times, as he passes. Everyone on board is smiling. He tells them about “Alloway’s auld haunted kirk” and the Mousie and the story of Tam o’ Shanter. If they are lucky, he’ll regale them with the first part of the poem in his best Scottish accent. He asks the passengers where they come from and makes sure they know when the buggy will pick them up again. He is an unforgettable part of their visit.

Although he started as a buggy driver it wasn’t long before he graduated to buggy organiser, drawing up the rota and checking the mechanics.  This wasn’t the least of his contributions to RBBM. Ever-willingly, he ran errands in the van, painted skirting boards, supervised the bouncy castle on gala days, generally helping whenever asked and wherever he could.

He was an essential element in the volunteer cohort, providing a sociable hub for exchange of news at or near the front door. He stood out in the cold selling Christmas trees and then professionally loading  them into the buyers’ cars, trunk first. He belted out Christmas carols in a sonorous bass as part of the volunteer choir of the time.  He took part in the performance group Burns Turns. His speciality from To a Mouse was the second stanza, declaimed entirely in English as is, of course, entirely appropriate: “I’m truly sorry man’s dominion…….”

Beyond the front door, he was a mainstay of Ayrshire Gifts an’ a’ That, the shop the volunteers had for a year in Alloway Street in the town, and he never minded manning the premises on his own. He served on the committee of the Friends of RBBM giving wise advice on the practicalities. He strongly supported other volunteers in their suggestions and activities, whether collecting supplies for the garden shop or acquiring pallets for construction of the book bank. 

At Christmas last year, after surgery and subsequent rigorous treatment, it became clear that he would struggle to come back. Volunteers and staff held a “lift” to give him a present to thank him for his friendship and unstinting service to RBBM. Enough money was collected for a whole heap of presents – from a cosy rug to novelty golf balls containing whisky and, yes, to a new tweed cap. He put the cap on right away and it was a happy day for him.

We’ll all miss him.