The vital efforts of volunteers in Borders communities was highlighted during a successful Games Week in Innerleithen.
Principal guest at the Cleikum Ceremonies on Friday evening, Alan Thomson, praised all those who put so much into ensuring the event went ahead year-on-year.
Mr Thomson is a long-term supporter of Games Week and is a founding member of the town’s Christmas lights group.
He also paid tribute to those who had played an important role in Games Week in the past, including his late father-in-law Walker McLaren, chairman for 29 years.
Mr Thomson added: “In a society where you rarely get anything for free, we are lucky enough to have a number of volunteers who turn up and do their bit.
“Volunteers don’t get paid, but it is not because they are worthless, it is because they are priceless.”
However, he said: “Innerleithen has expanded greatly, and in my mind more people should mean more help, more input, more energy – it is easy maths – but it does mean encouraging youngsters to become involved.”
Mr Thomson concluded: “Walker showed me the ropes. He was an Innerleithen stalwart and played a huge part in not only the growth of the Games, but also in helping out in the community.
“I can see a little bit of Walker in Mr President, Keith Belleville – the Games are in good hands, as are the silver band, the opera and our excellent primary school!”
At the Cleikum Ceremonies, Dux Boy Alex Paterson was invested with the crozier and Dux Girl Estelle Nguyen installed by Mr Thomson’s wife Isobel.
Ex-Standard Bearer Lyle Caine returned the Blue Banner unsullied and untarnished before Robbie Scott was installed by Mr Belleville.
Speaking to The Southern after the ceremony at St Ronan’s Wells later on Friday, Standard Bearer Robbie Scott said: “I’m proud to be in the history books now, and to put a mark down, so to speak.
“It has been a busy and tiring week, but it is a brilliant feeling.”
Standard Bearer’s Lass Rachel Lauder said the Cleikum Ceremonies was the “most nerve-wracking” bit for her, although Robbie added that for him the build-up was actually worse than making his speech.
More than 400 children took part in the flower parade on Saturday, with a sponsored truck-pull by the Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association bringing up the rear of the procession.
Unfortunately, the weather failed to hold out for Beating the Retreat later in the day.
Mr Belleville said: “The weather conditions for the first 20 minutes of this year’s Retreat can only be described as monsoon-like.
“However, an amazing number of townsfolk and visitors lined both sides of the High Street to support their bands and enjoy the music.”
Games Week concluded with the Burning of the De’il and fireworks display.
Mr Belleville said: “We’re blessed in Innerleithen to have a very strong community spirit. There’s a real ‘can-do’ attitude and this is perfectly illustrated when you consider the 10-day festival that we manage to produce every year.
“Yes, the committee works hard to draw everything together, but there are also a huge number of other people who carry out many other tasks to ensure the success of the Games.”
He said the town was “extremely proud” of the principals and added: “All our events have been extremely well supported and I’d like to record my thanks to townsfolk and visitors alike who came along and took part to help make it a brilliant occasion once again.”