ANY of the Borders common riding and festival principals, regardless of which town they are representing, are always conscious of living up to the standards set by those who have gone before them.
None more so than the new Jethart Herald, Allan Learmonth, who follows in the footsteps of Jedburgh’s former Scotland and British Lions scrum half, Gary Armstrong, and says the standards set by his predecessor are an inspiration.
“We’ve had many tremendous heralds and you’re always conscious of those who have filled the post before,” Allan, who was appointed last week, told TheSouthern.
“And we’ve had none better than Gary Armstrong who did an absolutely fantastic job, especially last year coping with the wet weather.
“If I can do half as good a job as Gary, I’ll be delighted.”
A 45-year-old local butcher, Allan will be the 23rd Jethart Herald to lead the town’s cavalcades, and will fill the role for the next three years.
A ‘weel-kent’ face in the town, Allan has been a staunch supporter of Jethart Callant’s Festival for many years, first following on horseback in 1984 when David Whillans was Callant, and gaining his Redeswire badge in 1996.
Educated at Parkside Primary and then Jedburgh Grammar School, Allan started his career as a butcher with David Palmer, where he worked for 21 years, and for the last eight years has run his own business in the town’s High Street.
Engaged to Christine Redpath, Allan will also be supported by daughter Rebecca, stepchildren Stacey, Megan and Ryan – all of whom are also keen festival followers, both on horse and foot – plus mother Ina and brother Ian.
Allan has been an active member of the festival committee since 1996, being involved in rides, fundraising and as a vice-convener.
He was also chairman of the Ancrum Festival Committee for many years and lists his hobbies as horseriding, golf – playing off a handicap of 13 – darts and kickboxing.
Allan recalls watching and being inspired by ex-Herald Alec Campbell, leading the cavalcade on his grey mount, which sparked an ambition to follow in his footsteps.
And being chosen as herald for 2013-15 fulfills that dream.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” he said.
“I’m over the moon. I was married very young, when I was just 20, so that ruled out any chance of ever being Callant.
“So to get the chance to be Herald, which is a very important and prestigious role, is simply tremendous and a great honour.
“I can’t wait for the summer now and the festival, as well as all the other Borders events.
“I’m just hoping we can get a bit of drier weather than we had last year – I think all those involved with every other Borders festival and common riding will be praying for the same thing this year!”