Braw Lads’ Gathering chairman David Houston says he expects this year’s event to be “massive” given the popularity of 2016’s two principals.
On Friday night, Mark Hood and Alex Mundell, both 19, stepped onto the balcony of the Burgh Chambers in Galashiels to an almighty roar from the large crowd outside.
The declaration night announcement ended the traditional fevered speculation over who would be chosen to lead the town’s summer festival.
The 2016 Braw Lad is employed as a pensions administrator with the Scottish Public Pensions Agency in Tweedbank.
Educated at Glendinning Primary and Galashiels Academy, Mark is an experienced horseman and lists horse-riding and watching horse racing among his interests.
For her part, Alex, a pharmacy student in Glasgow, has been riding horses almost since she could walk.
She too lists horses, as well as swimming and watching rugby, among her interests and was educated at Caddonfoot Primary and Mary Erskine School.
“The cheers Mark and Alex got when they stepped onto the balcony were incredible,” Mr Houston said.
“It had even been a struggle to actually hear the town clock chiming the tune of ‘Braw, Braw Lads’ over the roars from outside. The pair are clearly a very popular choice, and I think it will see an even more massive gathering this year.”
Alex admitted she has never been more nervous than just minutes before stepping onto the balcony of the Burgh Chambers, saying: “It was such a fantastic night. I was so nervous, but it was just the best night ever.”
Alex said it has been a long-cherished dream of hers to eventually be named Braw Lass, adding: “I rode my first Gathering back in 2003 when I was just six years old, and it was then I knew I wanted to be the Braw Lass one day.
“Both sides of my family are Gala through and through, so I know there will be a huge turnout of support from them.
“It’s going to be a crazy summer, so busy, but it will be an amazing one as well, and now that it has properly kicked off, I just can’t wait.”
Mark echoed her comments, saying: “It was a huge honour to be offered the position of Braw Lad. I’ve followed the gathering all of my life, and now to be Braw Lad is fantastic.”
As well as the Braw Lad and Lass, other appointments made for 2016 were Bearer of the Stone, ex-Braw Lad Gavin Young; Bearer of the White Roses, ex-Braw Lass Alice MacKay; Bearer of the Sod, ex-Braw Lad Cameron Pate; Bearer of the Red Roses, ex-Braw Lass Abbie Frankland.
The new principals followed their announcement by the dancing of the traditional reel along with local schoolchildren in front of the Burgh Chambers.