Andrew Richardson Blythe (1851-1933) was one of three illegitimate children born to Mary Blythe, a niece of Charles Blythe, king of the Yetholm gipsies. When he was four his cousin accidentally shot him and his arm had to be amputated (another child was killed in the accident). Andrew was brought up in extreme poverty - both his grandparents, mother and siblings were on Yetholm's poor roll. He was, however, academically able and stayed on at school beyond the usual age, although he never qualified as an accredited school-master.
In his late teens he sought work as a teacher of shepherds' children in the upper-Coquet valley. Successful at this - indeed, highly respected by all in this remote community - he was eventually appointed teacher of a new school at Windyhaugh by Northumberland County Council. There he remained for over 40 years before returning to Yetholm in his late sixties. Unmarried, he left his money to a variety of good causes, including the kirk (of which he was Session Clerk). The current stained-glass windows - some of the finest in the Scottish Borders - were commisioned by him, along with the kirk bells, which continue to ring out the hours along the Bowmont Water.
A Life Illumined explores his story in greater detail. A noted 'character' and much appreciated by all who knew him, abundant material has survived to allow us to shine a light on the life of this remarkable man and of the now-lost society in which he flourished.
Windyhaugh School c 1910 - the school is the building on the right and the schoolmaster's house is the wooden building in the centre.
The upper-Coquet valley, as seen from the schoolhouse.