Ancient ceremony that allows youths to shine

Liam receiving the water from the well to drink
Liam receiving the water from the well to drink
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Liam Card, this year’s St Ronan’s Standard Bearer found himself in awe at the work that goes into Innerleithen’s annual celebrations.

As a man who has followed the St Ronan’s Games Week all his life, he said: “I have always kind of took it a little for granted, but when you are part of it, you see just how much work it takes for it to work so seamlessly.

“It has been simply fantastic to take part in something I have followed all my life. All the participants – from St Ronan himself and the lantern bearer, to all the monks and the sash girls, to my Lass Sally Brown, were absolutely brilliant.

“But you don’t realise the hard work the committee members, and other volunteers put in to make it as seamless as possible.

“The Cleikum Ceremonies was outstanding, and it felt really special to be a part of the Games, as this year marked its 190th anniversary – the oldest in Scotland. I just can’t quite believe it’s all over.”

What sets this festival apart from others is the hefty responsibility laid on the shoulders of the children, who seem to carry the burden with ease.

Liam at the service for the fallen

Liam at the service for the fallen

In fact, from the moment last year’s Dux Boy Rory McDonald passed on the crozier with a word-perfect oration with no cure cards, and President of the Games Keith Belleville installed the new St Ronan, they positively revelled in the limelight.

The Cleikum Ceremonies celebrate the moment when the town’s patron saint caught (cleiked) the devil (de’il) with his crozier, and culminates with the burning of said fallen angel – showing that the might of understanding and knowledge will always triumph over evil.

So, it is apt that playing the part of St Ronan each year is the Dux Boy from St Ronan’s Primary School, who this year was Drew Lobb, who conducted his duties with due deference and decorum.

The Dux Girl, Anna Leckie, bussed the croziers, helped by the Lady Busser, Bryony Patterson.

2017 Standard Bearer Liam Card and his lass Sally Brown

2017 Standard Bearer Liam Card and his lass Sally Brown

Providing the light to guide St Ronan was the Junior Boy, Rory Smith, who carried the lantern with pride.

And the lads who were chosen to play the role of the monks and the sash girls also did their town and their families proud.

Taking on the baton was the evening’s guest speaker, Norman Scott, who spoke lightheartedly of St Ronan’s Weeks of old, and of how he managed to become a part of it all 
(just to help out).

After the ceremony in the Memorial Hall, the pageant walked out to the early evening dusk, and paid their respects to the fallen in the two world wars, before the procession up the High Street to St Ronan’s Well, where St Ronan gave the Standard Bearer a drink of well water from the quaich.

Marching along the high street on Friday night to the wells

Marching along the high street on Friday night to the wells

The evening ended with a torchlight procession for the Masonic ceremony before the Runic Cross.

Saturday began with the colourful children’s flower parade – no less than 400 kids taking part – before the Games itself took place (see pages 70-71).

The week had been relatively lucky with the weather, but tradition was upheld as rain marked the town’s pipe and silver bands performed the Beating the Retreat.

The torchlight procession up to Caerlee Hill for the burning of the De’il is always a stunning event, and this was no different ... Drew set the bonfire alight to mark the vanquishing of evil and the end of this year’s ceremonies.

Cake time for the sash girls

Cake time for the sash girls

Ex Standard bearers from 60 years ago to present day 1957 '67 '77 '87 '97 '07 2017

Ex Standard bearers from 60 years ago to present day 1957 '67 '77 '87 '97 '07 2017

2016 standard bearer Ross brown handing the flag back to chairman Keith after his year in office

2016 standard bearer Ross brown handing the flag back to chairman Keith after his year in office

St Ronan Cleikin' the deil

St Ronan Cleikin' the deil

Chairman Keth Bellevile

Chairman Keth Bellevile