Ex-mayor returns '˜from the other side'

Former mayor Hazel Bettison was mortified last year when she wrongly announced the death of a predecessor and it made the news at home and abroad.

Thursday, 1st September 2016, 9:00 am
Hazel Bettison and Bill Ferguson

It turned out that Bill Ferguson, chief citizen in 1999, was very much alive and well and living in New Zealand.

Nine months on from the embarrassing error, made at a Berwick Town Council meeting, the pair were united when Bill made a return visit to the UK.

Hazel said: “I received a telephone call from him saying, ‘hi, this is Bill Ferguson calling from the other side!’

“I repeated how sorry I was for holding a two-minute silence for him last year – he just laughed.

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“It was great to see Bill has been resurrected from 10,000 miles down under, coming back from New Zealand to see us all.”

Mr Ferguson, formerly from Wooler, met up with Cllr Bettison when they and mutual friends from Berwick’s twin town of Trzcianka in Poland met up.

Cllr Bettison was told Mr Ferguson had passed away when attending the funeral of former sheriff Tom Wakenshaw.

At the time, she explained: “I was informed by two former mayors that Bill had died and it is respectful when a member of the council has died that we hold a minute’s silence. Because I had been informed by not one person but two, I took it that he had died.

“It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we found out he hadn’t died. I was mortified to say the least and apologised profusely.”

Mr Ferguson represented Wooler for many years on Berwick Borough Council.