Crowds turn out for a stunning Peebles Beltane Festival

Red Letter Day. The Beltane Queen leaves the crowning ceremony.
Red Letter Day. The Beltane Queen leaves the crowning ceremony.
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Following in the footsteps of his uncle, cornet Ross Falla proved a credit to both his family and the town during what he described as a stunning Beltane Festival Week in Peebles.

Celebrations kicked off on the Sunday evening when Calum Macdougall was installed as warden of the Cross Kirk during a ceremony held at the county war memorial.

Allan Beveridge, secretary of Beltane Festival committee, along with George Blair and David Turnbull.

Allan Beveridge, secretary of Beltane Festival committee, along with George Blair and David Turnbull.

But it was Wednesday night that started to draw in the large crowds as spectators gathered at the Old Parish Church steps to see Ross installed as the town’s cornet, with his wife of one year, Eilidh, installed as his lass.

Beltane Festival chairman, Keith Brunton, sashed both Ross and Eilidh before handing over the burgh standard. He said: “Today is the day you are finally given the opportunity to carry burgh standard round our common land as cornet.

“Savour this opportunity you are being given, relish and enjoy the experiences it will bring.

“Ross, it is my pleasure on behalf of the Beltane Committee to install you as cornet for 2017.”

Peebles Beltane, Saturday, Red Letter Day. Children assembled on the steps of the church for the crowning ceremony.

Peebles Beltane, Saturday, Red Letter Day. Children assembled on the steps of the church for the crowning ceremony.

After Eilidh bussed the colours, Ross told onlookers: “I am honoured and privileged to be standing here tonight, sometimes in life opportunities come along that just can’t be missed, once in a lifetime opportunities.

“It might seem daunting at first but is hugely rewarding once taken.”

An hour later, Alan Duncan also spoke of grasping opportunities when he was installed as the warden of Neidpath at Neidpath Castle, where he told onlookers about the many clubs and associations that Peebles has to offer.

Of the town’s growing community, he said: “No town can afford to stand still, we must all move forward together. Welcome these people into our community, don’t think of them as strangers, they are just folk you haven’t met yet.”

Peebles Beltane week 2017. Wednesday night. Ex-Cornets pass the installation platform after the installation of Ross Falla.

Peebles Beltane week 2017. Wednesday night. Ex-Cornets pass the installation platform after the installation of Ross Falla.

At around 9pm crowds gathered along the banks of the River Tweed to see more than 180 horses and riders safe in, safe oot as they took part in a successful fording of the Tweed.

Last Saturday, the Beltane Festival committee could again this year be proud of their efforts when crowds from near and far celebrated Peebles Red Letter Day, the biggest and final event of the week.

Following the morning’s ride out, at 9.15am more than 500 schoolchildren from all three primary schools had high spirits as they took to the streets in fancy dress in a procession led by the Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band.

However, none had higher spirits than 12-year-old Emily Carrick-Anderson, of Priorsford Primary School, who was crowned as this year’s Peebles Beltane Queen.

She was joined by chief maid Ava Church, first courtier Fraser Carlotti and second courtier Rory Laidlaw at 10am for the coronation of the beltane queen, by crowning lady Jan Gordon.

The skirl of the pipes later echoed throughout the town when the cornet led the grand procession of pipe bands, silver bands and floats around the town.

Ross later told the Southern: “The last week has been absolutely stunning and I couldn’t even try to pick a highlight as the whole week was fantastic.

“There were huge crowds throughout the week which was helped as the weather being kind to us, it was great.

“All the kids did really well, Rory, Ava , Fraser and Emily, they were all fantastic and happy children on their day.

“I’d like to thank the people of Peebles for coming out and showing their support, they are what made it such a good week.”

Allan Beveridge, joint secretary of the Beltane Festival committee, said: “The week has been excellent.

“When it’s good weather the public come out and support it and the kids have great fun as does everyone in attendance. The arrangements from behind the scenes have also been very good.

“The crowds on Thursday night and Wednesday night were unbelievable, I don’t know where everyone comes from, it was superb. The public has been really behind us this week.

“The organisation has run very smoothly this year. There are usually a few small hitches at last minute but I think we have managed to overcome any minor things that may have happened. Everything has gone more or less to plan.”

 Look out for Thursday’s picture special of the Southern Reporter.

Beltane Court 2017

Beltane queen: Emily Carrick-Anderson

Chief maid: Ava Church

First courtier: Fraser Carlotti

Second courtier: Rory Laidlaw

Maids: Carys Cornwall, Robin Dalgleish, Lila Kitching, Holly Paton and Sarah Warnock.

Immediate entourage: Skye Combe, Heidi Holt, Christina McGorum, Ellie McGovern, Anna Nethercot, Jess Towse, Emma Warrington,

Admiral: Isaac Lancaster Casket Bearer: Sean Hodson

Crown Bearer: Mark Tredgett

First herald: Harrison Nicol

Second herald: Euan Macleod

Royal herald: Rio Bhatia

Queen’s highlander: Cameron Gilmour

Sceptre bearer: Alec Sellar

Standard Bearer: Max Haslam

Sword bearer: James Clare

Telegram girl: Ava Balfour

Queen’s pages: Jason Claridge, Ross Halliday, Erin Morton, Joe Munachen, James Stevenson and Matthew Thomson.