Tradition upheld, flags flown and history celebrated

The Square was at perhaps its most attractive for the solemn installation of Kelso Laddie Calum Thomson on Wednesday night.

Crowds lined the cobbled town centre as they watched the event unfold in the evening sunlight.

Kelso Civic Week. Whipman Ride.

Kelso Civic Week. Whipman Ride.

Master of Ceremonies, ex-Kelso Laddie Colin Henderson, celebrating 25 years as MC and who rode the Yetholm ride-out later that week, introduced the visiting principals, the platform party, the young lady colour bussers and the ex-Kelso Laddies.

The Kelso Laddie Calum Thomson, his Right and Left-Hand Men, Callum Vickers and Phil Hume, were sashed before Provost John Bassett entrusted the Kelso Standard to Laddie Calum and urged him to “dae richt, fear nocht”.

The young principal descended from the platform and slowly made his way to the centre of the Square where lady bussers Carly Thom, Fiona Lessenger, Holly Hay and Ellie Scott bussed the flag with ribbons on which are written “freedom, honour, valour and wisdom”.

Back on the platform Calum told the assembled crowds the pride he felt at receiving the Kelso Standard was “incredible” and that he hoped to return the flag “unsullied and untarnished” on Saturday night.

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Laddies’ Association chairman Neil Hastie’s wife, Gillian, presented Silver Jubilee Laddie Steven Dickson with his 25-year medal. He said becoming Kelso Laddie was the best thing that had happened in his life then. He and others regretted that the late Kenneth Ballantyne, the Ex-Kelso Laddie who was the Yetholm ride-out’s youngest rider, aged six, in 1949 was not present to celebrate his Golden Jubilee year.

On Friday crowds in the Square learned about the Whipman’s Society and rideout, revived in 1961.

And they saw President of the Ex-Kelso Laddies Eric Paxton present Laddie Calum with the Whipman’s Flag which was bussed by Lynda Ballantyne, wife of the late Kenneth.

The oration was given by John Lamont MSP who talked about the importance of tradition, Kelso Civic Week and the Whipmen’s Society.

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

He continued: “Whilst in centuries gone by horses rode out of Kelso around, to and over the border to raid, today they do so as part of the Kelso Civic Week tradition to remember historic rivalries long since forgotten and to celebrate modern friendships long since forged.”

But Borderers did not see the border as a barrier, he said, and he argued the concept of a border was artificial.

He said: “The border that lies just five miles from here as the crow flies is the product of a Renaissance compromise negotiated by a French ambassador to resolve the wild “debatable lands” that lay between Scotland and England in 1552.”

Before that another English-Scottish border was Hadrian’s Wall and before that the Anglo-Saxon border in 927 was at Eamont Bridge.

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

“One of the wonders of Kelso and the people who live within and around it, is its ability to transcend boundaries: be they historical, cultural, or geographical.

“We are proud Brits, and even prouder Scots, and this complex, deep and flexible identity is true to our natures as Scots as well as Kelsonians, and true to a modern world without borders. To try to reduce our identities to one facet, and to erect barriers where none previously existed, is to fundamentally reduce ourselves,” he said.

Friday evening’s historic Whipman’s Ride saw a cavalcade of 55 make their way to Friars Haugh to watch Laddie Calum cut his initials in the sod at the trysting tree.

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Civic Week. Yetholm Ride

Kelso Civic Week. Kelso Laddie Calum Thomson with father David on the Yewtholm Ride.

Kelso Civic Week. Kelso Laddie Calum Thomson with father David on the Yewtholm Ride.