The countdown to Yetholm’s festival week can now begin as its 2017 principals were unveiled to villagers on Friday night.
A large crowd gathered in brilliant sunshine outside the Plough Hotel to hear the announcement of this year’s Bari Gadgi, Joseph Mallen, and Bari Manushi, Amberlie Allan.
The pair were greeted by friends, family and villagers before leading the walk along to Wauchope Hall, where they were officially installed and sashed.
Former Morebattle Primary and Kelso High School pupil Joseph studied agriculture at Borders College in Galashiels and Barony College in Dumfries, and he has worked for the Flintoft family at Sourhope Farm in the Bowmont Valley for the past four years.
He was born in Yetholm but moved to Morebattle as a youngster and now lives at Sourhope.
Outside of work, he is kept busy as a member of the Young Farmers’ Association, competing in stick dressing and indoor bowling.
For young farmer Joseph, 20, it was a proud moment as he was joined on stage by his aunt Fiona Learmonth, Yetholm’s bari manushi 25 years ago.
He said: “It was two Mallens on the stage at the same time, so that was quite special for us.”
He can also rely on the support of his dad, Willie Mallen, boss of a joinery business in Yetholm, his mum Hazel, a worker at the Roxburghe Hotel near Kelso, and his younger siblings Neil and Tamara.
For Joseph, his appointment is the fulfilment of a life long ambition, albeit heralding a bit of a learning curve over the coming months.
“Growing up, this was something that I always hoped to do,” he said. “I used to ride when I was little and started again this winter.
“Although I have not followed on horseback before, I will be fine as long as I don’t fall off.”
Once the village’s main ride to the Stobstanes is over, Joseph plans to follow on horseback behind the Kelso Laddie to Yetholm, the Coldstreamer at Flodden and at further rides in Duns and Lauder.
He added: “It’s going to be a pretty full-on two to three months, but I’m looking forward to it all, meeting new people and getting around the Border towns.”
Equally as excited is Bari Manushi Amberlie.
The 22-year-old carer, a keen horse-rider, is particularly looking forward to leading the cavalcade to the Stobstanes.
Originally from Surrey, Amberlie moved to the village with her family in 2004.
She attended Morebattle Primary School and Kelso Highbefore studying at Borders College and taking up her post as a carer at Lennel House Nursing Home in Coldstream three years ago.
Her parents Steve and Denise Allan and younger brother Matthew also live in the village.
“They are all very excited and are really rooting for me,” Amberlie said.
“We have always enjoyed supporting festival week in the past.
“I’ve followed every year, and this year will be my third year riding to Stobstanes.”
She will be riding her own mare, an ex-racehorse called Vida with plenty of experience on the common riding circuit, having carried the Selkirk standard three years ago.
Reflecting on Friday evening’s reception, she added: “It was heaving. Thanks to everyone who came out to support Joseph and me. Fingers crossed the sun remains for the big week in June.”
Yetholm Festival committee chairwoman Susan Stewart added: “To this year’s principals Joseph and Amberlie go the good wishes and continued support of all in our community.
“I hope that you will enjoy your forthcoming year in office, and I do know that you will make many new friends and renew old friendships as you travel around the Borders as our representatives.”
Festival week runs from Friday, June 9, until Saturday, June 17, with the rideout to Stobstanes taking place on the Wednesday of that week.