Ex-Callant Jim joins diamond jubilee club

Jedburgh's Diamond jubillee Callant Jim Sinton toasts this year's crop of principals, together with his nephew , 1978 Callant Billy Fairgrieve, at Carham Hall residential home this week. From left, Right-Hand Man Ryan Miller, Callant Iain Chisholm,, Jim Sinton, Left-Hand Man Grant Davidson, Billy Fairgrieve and Herald Gary Armstrong.

Jedburgh's Diamond jubillee Callant Jim Sinton toasts this year's crop of principals, together with his nephew , 1978 Callant Billy Fairgrieve, at Carham Hall residential home this week. From left, Right-Hand Man Ryan Miller, Callant Iain Chisholm,, Jim Sinton, Left-Hand Man Grant Davidson, Billy Fairgrieve and Herald Gary Armstrong.

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THE Queen’s diamond jubilee is not the only 60th anniversary being celebrated in Jedburgh this summer.

In 1952, a young James Sinton was chosen as that year’s Jethart Callant. Now 87, Jimmy became a resident of Carham Hall residential care home last spring.

Jethart Callant Jimmy Sinton and his henchmen Right Hand Man John Hume and Left Hand Man Bobby Rutherford on Festival Day.

Jethart Callant Jimmy Sinton and his henchmen Right Hand Man John Hume and Left Hand Man Bobby Rutherford on Festival Day.

However, this year, as in every previous year, he is looking forward to tramping the streets of his home town in support of the principals involved with Jethart Callant’s Festival.

On Tuesday, Jim was guest of honour at a special function organised by Carham Hall staff, to mark his diamond jubilee as callant, which saw 2012 Callant Iain Chisholm, Right and Left Hand Men, Ryan Miller and Grant Davidson, together with Herald Gary Armstrong, pay a visit.

Asked how important it was for him to meet Jim, Callant Chisholm told TheSouthern: “Jimmy has been there from the start – he followed Charlie McDonald, the first ever callant.

“If it wasn’t for folk like Jimmy, we would not have the festival going like it does today. If we don’t get folk involved it won’t keep going and it has to, because it’s traditions like this that keep our town great.

“And to see this turnout today for Jimmy is fantastic – he’s a stalwart of the town. To see people like Jimmy still supporting the festival all these years really shows what it means to be callant.”

The first callant of the then new Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, Jim is a weel-kent face in Jedburgh. He is a former bus driver in the region and then a bus inspector, and many residents of the town will also remember him from his days entertaining as a ventriloquist and a musician with Jedforest Instrumental Band.

His late wife, Eliza, sadly passed away in 1992, but son John and grandchildren are only a stone’s throw away over the border in Newcastle.

A resident of Carham Hall for only a little over a year, Jim has already established himself as a popular presence with staff and fellow residents.

Jean Baxter, manager of the home for the past 25 years, said it was always a great privilege to care for people like Jim.

“Whenever possible, we like to mark events such as this which are special to the individual, whether they come to Carham Hall as their new permanent home, or just visiting for the odd week’s respite care.”

And while Jim may no longer be able to saddle up and follow the callant on horseback, he makes up for it on foot.

He told TheSouthern he had greatly enjoyed Tuesday’s visit by Callant Chisholm and his supporters.

“It was very good. Yes, I enjoyed it a lot,” he said after joining in an impromptu rendition of Jethart’s Here with the principals.

Asked if he could still remember his own time as callant and what memories stuck out from 1952, Jim said there were many things.

“Oh yes, I can still remember it – even though I’m only 12 years off being hundred years auld!” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

“I had some grand days as callant. I cannae mind exactly what the weather was like back then – I should. But it was still a great time.

“I’ve always supported the festival, for a long time now, a good number of years.”

Asked what he thought of this year’s crop of principals, Jim laughed: “They’ll do a good job, they’ll do all right.”

Jim’s son, John, agreed it had been a brilliant day. “The fact it was the Queen’s diamond jubilee as well as my dad’s, has made this year extra special.

“I always take him round the various rideouts and to the investiture concert. He still manages to walk round the whole thing.”