TRIBUTES have been paid to a former councillor – who ran a stationery shop with his wife for nearly half a century – who has died.

Alistair Watson, along with wife Jenny, opened Watsons of Haddington on the town’s Market Street in 1967.

The shop became a firm fixture in the town centre until the couple retired on Christmas Eve 2014.

Mr Watson, who was 88, passed away on December 23 last year.

His children led the tributes to their dad, whose funeral took place at Mortonhall in Edinburgh on January 3.

Daughter Janice said: “He was tremendously hard-working, would help anyone, and had a great sense of community spirit.”

Mr Watson, who worked as a stationery rep covering all of Scotland and the north of England, opened the business as a ‘sideline’.

However, Watsons of Haddington proved such a success that it remained open for 48 years, with Alistair and Jenny – who have four children, Janice, Bill, Brian and Sandy – stepping down before the shop was taken over by Anna and Christopher Zientara.

Now renamed Magpie and Crow, the business continues to sell a variety of stationery goods.

Simon Kesley, of Kesley’s Bookshop, which is next door to the shop, was among those paying tribute.

He told the Courier: “Alistair was part of the fabric of Haddington.

“He had been a former councillor and Watsons was an institution in Haddington.”

Away from the business, Mr Watson was a Conservative councillor on the district council from June 1983 to 1992 and was president of the town’s Rotary Club in 1980/81.

Councillors John McMillan and Tom Trotter also paid tribute to Mr Watson, who lived on the town’s Burnside.

Mr McMillan, who attended the funeral, told the Courier: “He was just so much part of Haddington that I had not realised he came through in the 1960s as part of the Glasgow overspill.

“[With] his work for the Rotary Club and as a councillor, as well as running the shop, he was such an important part of the town.

“I first met him through dealing with community organisations, where he was so helpful and generous and always felt an integral part of the community.

“It was a well-attended funeral, with people paying their respects to him.

“I just always felt he was Haddington born and bred.”

Mr Trotter similarly paid tribute and said: “[It was] a long-established business for many years and well used.

“I know from having spoken to people that Mr Watson was well thought of in the community.

“He will be a sad miss and my thoughts are with the family.”