Principals earn their spurs as ride draws huge following

Braw Lad Greg Robertson, Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson.
Braw Lad Greg Robertson, Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson.

Greetings were exchanged and friendships forged as the curtain was raised for this year’s Galashiels Braw Lad’s Gathering by its spurs night on Friday.

Gala principals Greg Robertson and Amy Thomson led their first rideout to meet Selkirk Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and his burleymen as they forded the Tweed at Galafoot. And the future of the gathering is in very safe hands if last week’s strong start is anything to go by, according to Braw Lad Greg.

Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson raise a glass on their arrival into Galashiels.

Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson raise a glass on their arrival into Galashiels.

“The turnout was absolutely outstanding, and with 93 young riders too, it was one of the best we have had in a while,” he said. “It was really great to see possible future braw lads and lasses following and the inspiration that myself and Amy can give them.

“It’s good for the future, and it doesn’t look like our traditions are going to die out anytime soon.

“They were so happy to see us when we gave out the ribbons at the end, and seeing how much they look up to us is crazy.”

Following in the footsteps of those before them, the principals shook hands at the Tweed and together led riders back to their home town, where Galashiels Ex-Service Pipe Band and a large contingent of supporters from both towns greeted them.

A young rider waves to the crowds on spurs night.

A young rider waves to the crowds on spurs night.

The main party accepted a traditional stirrup cup from Gala YM rugby club at the fountain, and for the first time rosettes were handed to the young riders who took part.

They then headed to the town’s Royal British Legion club for the traditional spurs night dinner hosted by the Gala Souters’ Association.

Here, in the company of around 100 guests, Gala Souters’ chairman George Emond presented Kieran with his spurs while the Braw Lad and Lass too received their spurs and compact mirror respectively from ex-standard bearer Douglas Gunn.

The toast to the royal and ancient burgh and ancient crafts was given by Matthew Burgess, with the reply by Selkirk Common Riding Trust chairman Jake Wheelans.

Braw Lad Greg Robertson, Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson.

Braw Lad Greg Robertson, Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and Braw Lass Amy Thomson.

Mr Edmond and Mr Gunn gave the toasts to the standard bearer and the Braw Lad and lass respectively, before each principal replied in turn.

Music came from George Inglis and Jimmy Gibb.

Greg added: “The Gala Souters’ Association play a big part in the evening, and they gave us a warm welcome. None of it had really felt like reality until Friday. It’s great, though. I really can’t put it into words the feeling it’s giving me.”

Looking ahead to the next rideout, he added: “Threepwood is always a great ride.

Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and his Burleymen make their way across the River Tweed at Galafoot.

Selkirk Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell and his Burleymen make their way across the River Tweed at Galafoot.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the Lauder principals at Threepwood field for the historic ceremony and getting my Threepwood medal.”

The cavalcade will leave Netherdale at 5.45pm heading along Nether Road, Tweed Road, Winston Road and Melrose Road before travelling cross-country to meet the Lauder contingent at Threepwood at around 7.15pm.

Top taple at the spurs night dinner in the Legion.

Top taple at the spurs night dinner in the Legion.

Braw Lad and Lass Greg Robertson and Amy Thomson lead the cavalcade on spurs night.

Braw Lad and Lass Greg Robertson and Amy Thomson lead the cavalcade on spurs night.

Gala Souters chairman George Emond presents Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell with his spurs.

Gala Souters chairman George Emond presents Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell with his spurs.