Melrose’s Russell is loving every minute

Melrosian elect Russell Mackay with left hand man Donald Crawford and right hand man Struan Hutchison.
Melrosian elect Russell Mackay with left hand man Donald Crawford and right hand man Struan Hutchison.

Melrose Festival is now well under way, having kicked off in brilliant sunshine on Sunday.

And for the young man charged with leading the week’s events, Melrosian elect Russell Mackay, it’s about to get even better.

Melrosian Russell Mackay leads his first rideout.

Melrosian Russell Mackay leads his first rideout.

His first duty, laying a wreath at the war memorial on Sunday morning, was followed by the kirkin’ service in the parish church, led by the Rev Rosie Frew and Philip Blackledge. That was followed by a football tournament, Monday night’s rideout, last night’s hugely popular fancy-dress contest continuing with the family bike ride which takes place tonight.

The 21-year-old farmer, who has been learning to ride since his appointment in January, has already followed four rideouts as a visiting principal, but he admitted that Monday night’s ride was what it was all about for him.

“That was the main ride for me and the one I was most looking forward to,” he said.

“It was perfect weather for it, and there was a great turnout of horses, well over 200.

Melrosian Russell Mackay makes his way to the church for the kirkin ceremony at the start of Melrose Festival Week.

Melrosian Russell Mackay makes his way to the church for the kirkin ceremony at the start of Melrose Festival Week.

“The crowds on both sides of the Tweed and the gallop after the crossing were great.

“Coming back in to the square behind the pipe band was a great feeling. I loved it.”

He added: “I have got a full week with visits to the schools and hospitals still to go before the ball and the weekend, so that will be really nice as they’re good community events and it makes the kids’ day. It’s a packed week to come.”

Tomorrow night’s installation of the Melrosian and crowning of the festival queen begins at 7pm in Melrose Abbey, or in the parish church if wet.

Melrosian Russell Mackay lays a wreath at the War Memorial on Sunday morning.

Melrosian Russell Mackay lays a wreath at the War Memorial on Sunday morning.

On Friday, the Melrosian visits care homes, schools, nurseries and hospitals, followed by the ball at Annay Road Rugby Ground at 8pm. The festival concludes on Saturday. A tour of ceremonies begins in Market Square at 8.50am, with visits to Newstead, Trimontium, Gattonside, Abbotsford, Darnick Tower and then the abbey. The sports start in Gibson Park at 2.30pm, and Melrose and District Pipe Band will play in Market Square at 7pm, followed by a festival dinner in Melrose Rugby Club at 8pm.

Horses enjoy a cool dip as the cavalcade makes its way across the Tweed at Millmount.

Horses enjoy a cool dip as the cavalcade makes its way across the Tweed at Millmount.

Melrose Festival chairman Michael Crawford with Melrosian elect Russell Mackay on Monday night.

Melrose Festival chairman Michael Crawford with Melrosian elect Russell Mackay on Monday night.

Russell Mackay crosses the River Tweed during Monday night's rideout.

Russell Mackay crosses the River Tweed during Monday night's rideout.