Fresh look for traditional flags

Kevin Fairbair, chairman of the Common Riding Executive Committee, receives the flags from Border Studio owner Kate Reinsch.
Kevin Fairbair, chairman of the Common Riding Executive Committee, receives the flags from Border Studio owner Kate Reinsch.

A theatrical supplier based in Selkirk is giving this year’s common riding festivities a fresh new look.

Kate Reinsch, owner of the Border Studio, has gifted flags to the common riding executive, which will be used to decorate the Victoria Hall.

The flags were originally painted by Kate’s father, Leslie Garner. He was not a Selkirk man but had been stationed at Bowhill after being injured in the Second World War and had met and married a Selkirk woman, Muriel Grieve.

Les chose to establish his theatrical supply business in the royal burgh, which continues to thrive in the town today, sending scenery and backcloths across the country.

The Border Studio still remains very much in the family, with Kate the sole owner, assisted by her youngest daughter Tamsin, who takes the business into its third generation.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to give the flags to the town,” said Kate. “I remember watching my dad paint them all those years ago, and it gives me great pride seeing them go up in the Victoria Halls every year.

“We’ve stored them very carefully for a number of years now, ready to decorate the hall, so they’re still in great condition. I hope we still get to see them go up for a few years yet.

“It’s all part of the tradition, and it’s nice to have that personal link to the common riding, especially as mum and her family were all from Selkirk, going back generations.”

Over the years, Les painted not just the Victoria Halls decoration flags but also some of the flags associated with the standard bearers who take part on the day.

Old photographs show Les painting the fleshers’ flag, and Kate is sure he also worked on the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer’s flag at some point.

“I’m so pleased to be able to hand them over to Kevin Fairbairn, the chairman of the executive common riding committee, especially as I’ve worked with his parents Iain and Sheila Fairbairn for many years, and Kevin himself has helped his dad build scenery for us.

“It’s a real family affair.”

The flags will be back in the Victoria Halls this week for the common riding ball.

Not only do they help decorate the venue, but to his daughter Kate and granddaughters Rebecca and Tamsin, they also serve as a touching tribute to Les, an Englishman who made Selkirk his home.