SATURDAY dawned sunny and warm for Kelso’s big rideout to Yetholm in this the celebrations’ 75th year, writes Sally Gillespie.
Nearly 150 riders took part in the long ride from the Tweedside town to the village on the edge of the Cheviots on a route slightly altered because of recent wet weather.
The Kelso Laddie, Callum Vickers, and his Right and Left Hand Men, Phil Hume and Murray Playfair, were welcomed at the village war memorial by the Rev Ian Clark before Callum laid a wreath.
Families, friends and supporters picnicked on the village greens before the 147-strong cavalcade made its return journey to Kelso in the afternoon sunshine.
Secretary of the week’s organisers, the Kelso Laddies Association, Richie Allan said: “Civic week was exceptional, really, apart from the weather on Wednesday night, everything went really very well indeed. It was very successful and everybody enjoyed it, which is the main thing.”
The man of the moment, Callum Vickers was also delighted with the success of the anniversary celebrations.
He said: “It was brilliant, really good. The Wednesday night shouting ‘fear nocht’ was one of my big highlights along with riding in along Bridge Street coming back from Yetholm.
“I was surprised by the amount of support and people who still came out on the Wednesday even though the weather was horrible. That meant a lot. The rest of the week was pretty decent compared to the other festivals’ weeks and the weather was really good on Saturday: it ended the week on a high.
“Everybody told me I would enjoy it and cherish the moments. I didn’t think I would enjoy it this much, it’s unbelievable but it went far too quick!
“It’s all the people you meet and everybody is there for the same reason, for a good time – and everybody is there to support you and be behind you all the way.
“When you visit old folks’ homes you can see it makes their day that you take time to turn up and meet them. You go and visit the schools and nurseries and when you see the faces in the playground and they follow you about and get into it as much as you do…!”
Thursday’s fancy dress party for children in the Tait Hall in the afternoon proved as popular as usual. Later in the day more than 100 young pedallers took part in the fun cycle run to Floors - increasing in popularity each year – while others rode their ponies to the castle where they were welcomed by the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe.
The Floors cavalcade had 53 riders and the prize for the the best horse overall was won by Lauren Veitch and the best turned out (hired horse) was won by Katie McNulty
Thursday night’s civic week ball was a sellout with more than 500 people dancing to bands Corra and Western Rhythm.
On Friday the afternoon swimming gala was as popular as ever and later, in the Square, Dr Grant Mooney gave the oration before 36 horses and riders followed Callum on the historic Whipman’s Ride to Friarshaugh where nine races took place over soft ground. The best turned out horse and rider prize went to Betty Johnston.
On Saturday the youngest rider completing the Yetholm rideout was Hamish Stenhouse seven, and the oldest was Mark Skilbeck, aged 73
Each rider was given a commemorative 75th anniversary badge before they left Kelso for Yetholm on Saturday morning.