Father and son hang up their ladders

Billy Dow and his son Ryan, who have been putting up Common Riding bunting for 28 years.
Billy Dow and his son Ryan, who have been putting up Common Riding bunting for 28 years.
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The father-and-son team who have organised the town’s Common Riding bunting for 28 years is standing down.

Selkirk joiner Billy Dow, 63, and his son Ryan, 43, were also in charge of erecting and dismantling the bussin’ and casting platforms.

And the duo told The Wee Paper this week, that although they have enjoyed the work, it’s about time they retired.

Billy laughed: “In fact, I’ve been trying to get out of it for years! I’m getting too old, and the job is becoming far too complicated with health and safety getting more stringent year on year.”

The duo, have in the past had the help of Mick Linton, Billy’s younger son Christopher, his brother-in-law Kevin Brown, and Billy’s grandchildren.

They have agreed to help out this year, and advise the men stepping into the breach – Selkirk’s Incorporation of Hammermen, along with John Laidlaw and Son of Jedburgh, who will be responsible for the erection of the platforms in the Market Place and the Victoria Halls.

The bunting appeared all over the town, down to the Toll banking, and it took around 16 hours to put up.

However, it has been getting more difficult as the years go by.

Billy said: “We were asked if we lean our ladders on the lampposts, and were told that we shouldn’t. I replied: ‘No, we actually float up there and tie the bunting on’.”

The pair said they tried one year to use cherry pickers, but with the heavy traffic in the centre of town, it proved time-consuming.

Billy said: “It will be good to finally be able to just enjoy the Common Riding, as I’m usually having to take the casting platform down as soon as they finish.”

Johnnie Thomson, clerk to Selkirk Common Riding Trust, praised the pair for their “sterling service”.

He said: “The trustees greatly appreciate the work and assistance the Dow father and son team have given over a quarter of a century, and have, with reluctance, accepted that they now wish to retire from Common Riding work.”