Civic Week celebrations are in full swing in Coldstream, and attention now turns to the main event of the week, the cavalcade to Flodden.
For Coldstreamer Colin Leifer the long wait was over on Sunday, as the town’s Henderson Park filled with guests, Coldstream Guards and around 40 Ex-Coldstreamers for the opening ceremony.
Every Coldstreamer before him would tell Colin the same thing – leading the 300 strong cavalcade of horses and riders over Coldstream Bridge to Flodden to commemorate the dead of both England and Scotland in the 1513 Battle of Flodden is a day he will never forget. One of those Ex-Coldstreamers is Colin’s father, Jim Leifer who was Coldstreamer in 1974 and long-time chairman of Presenting Coldstream, and Kevin is now beginning to understand what his father has told him about how it feels to lead the town’s celebrations.
At the ceremony Colin said: “I have often stood here and heard my dad thank everyone for their amazing support – I know now what he means, you are all ‘nulli secundus’.
“I stand here today a very proud man as your 2014 Coldstreamer. I promise to uphold the high standard of those before me and look forward to all our events.”
At the opening ceremony, chairman Iain Dickson explained that the old burgh standard that was first carried to Flodden in 1993 by Coldstreamer Kevan Younger, was being retired and would be laid up in Coldstream Parish Church at the inauguration service later that day. The standard was brought into Henderson Park by Kevan and it also fell to him to carry it to the parish church and its final resting place.
The new burgh standard was presented to the 2014 Coldstreamer Colin Leifer by the silver jubilee Coldstreamer Graham Thompson.
It was something of a bitter sweet moment for Graham and his family as his brother David, a stalwart of Civic Week celebrations, died earlier this year.
“David’s wife and family realised how much Coldstream Civic Week meant to David,” explained Presenting Coldstream chairman Iain Dickson, “and at the service of celebration of his life it was the family’s wish for the collection to be given to Presenting Coldstream.
“It epitomises the family ties with Coldstream Civic Week, so we decided to buy a new burgh standard.”
Chairman Iain Dickson also asked those gathered to remember all those that have been lost over recent months, including the first Coldstreamer Kenneth Palmer who had returned to Coldstream from his home in Hawick on many occasions over the years for the civic week events and who died in May this year.
Speaking to Colin, Iain, himself a Coldstreamer in 1987, said: “I must congratulate you on the tremendous job you have done. Now it is your turn to lead Coldstream in its festivities and lead the cavalcades to Norham, Birgham, Leitholm and Flodden on Thursday – I can guarantee it will be a day you will never forget.
“I wish you and your family a successful week. It will be a week to remember.”
After Colin had received the new burgh standard and the Coldstreamer’s sash, as is tradition, the mother of Left Hand Man Grant Campbell, Sally Campbell was invited to buss the burgh standard with the 2014 Coldstreamer’s colours of emerald green and gold. Then after the youngsters from the Guides, Brownies, Rainbows and Boys Brigade and been presented with their medals by Colin and his Left- and Right-Hand Men Grant Campbell and James Balmbro, Coldstream Pipe Band led a parade of principals, Coldstream Guards and guests to the parish church for the inauguration ceremony and to lay a wreath at the war memorial.
Every Monday morning of Civic Week, Duke Street becomes a hive of activity for the traditional dub dash – some describe it as a race, but not quite up to Usain Bolt standards!
There has been plenty to keep everyone occupied this week, children’s sports, cycle races, hat competition, pet show, tea dance ... the list goes on. And the horses and riders were cheered on their way out to Norham on Monday, and Birgham on Wednesday.
Today is the biggest day of the week and starts in the town’s Market Square when the Earl of Home busses the burgh standard with the Home colours and charges the Coldstreamer: “To lead the cavalcade assembled in Coldstream to Flodden Field, the site of the battle, to commemorate the dead of both natioan. Also to cut a sod of turf from the field to carry it back to Coldstream, to symbolise the actions of Abbess Hoppringle, of Coldstream Abbey.”
A day to remember for every Coldstreamer who leads the gallop up Branxton Hill for the Flodden service at 1pm.