Traditions carried on in exemplary fashion at Selkirk

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While the rest of the world changes, Selkirk Common Riding remains a constant, a centrepoint for the whole community to come together.

That was the view of the Royal and Ancient Burgh’s Provost, Jake Wheelans, following a very successful Friday ride of the marches.

Attendant Peter Forrest carries the Burgh flag.

Attendant Peter Forrest carries the Burgh flag.

It was a Hail Smilin’ Morn indeed, when Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell, and Mr Wheelans himself were roused at 4am by Selkirk Flute band before attending the Act of Remembrance at Selkirk War Memorial.

Following the first drum, the sounds of the Silver band could be heard across the town before the foot procession arrived at Victoria Halls for the Bussin’ of the Royal Burgh Flag.

On the balcony, Kieran was sashed and kissed in time-honoured fashion by the Lady Busser, Dilys Wheelans.

She tied the ribbon to the Burgh flag, and said: “I now declare the flag of the Royal and Ancient Burgh to be well and truly bussed for the year 2017.

Two-minute silence.

Two-minute silence.

“I wish Standard Bearer Riddell every success in the execution of his duties. Safe Oot, Safe In.”

Provost Wheelans handed Kieran the iconic flag, saying: “Standard Bearer Riddell, your flag has been well and truly bussed.

“I now charge you to carry it around the marches of our Burgh lands, to Cast your Colours in our ancient market square, and in due course, to return it to me, unsullied and untarnished.

“I wish you, in the time-honoured fashion, Safe Oot, Safe In.”

Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell casts the flag.

Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Kieran Riddell casts the flag.

Kieran replied: “I’d like to thank the Lady Busser in the gracious manner in which she has bussed my flag.”

Speaking to the Provost, he said: “To you sir, I will endeavour to carry out my duties to the best of my ability and to return the flag to you unsullied and untarnished.”

Shortly after, the Silver Band led the procession down to the Ettrick Water, with the skirl of the pipes from Selkirk Pipe Band following.

A large crowd lined the riverside at 7.30am to watch as 292 horses successfully crossed the river, with just one rider coming off his horse.

Despite the grey clouds, the weather remained dry as the riders proceeded up Linglie Glen before reaching the summit of the Three Brethren at around 9am.

Kieran and his attendants, Thomas Willmott, Robbie Reilly, Sam Coltherd and Peter Forrest followed by the Burleymen, then rode back into the town past the Toll where they were greeted by community singing led by the bands.

Each Standard Bearer was a credit to their guilds at the Casting of the Colours in Market Square in front of hundreds of onlookers – the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Riddell himself taking that first few steps to the podium and casting perfectly setting the scene for the Fleshers’ Darren Hoggan, the Merchants’ Stuart Hogarth, the Hammermen’s Fraser Tough, the Weavers’ Kevin Nicoll, the Colonials’ Martin Murray and the Ex-Soldiers’ Alex Ballantyne.

Kieran told the Southern that the rideout: “Was pretty good, it was fairly solid even though we had a little bit of rain last night and we got across the river it was really good and quite quickly.

“I heard there was a few fallers, a couple of injuries, but you very rarely get away without that.

“I am a little bit upset that it’s all over, but it still hasn’t really hit me yet.

“The rideout was really good as there wasn’t too much wind and it didn’t rain.

“It is very important that we keep up these traditions, they are what makes this town and its people special.

“The rideout is what makes the whole event and without it, this would just be another town.

“It brings people out every year so it is really important to keep up the traditions.”

Provost Wheelans agreed that: “The Royal Burgh Standard Bearer has had an excellent day. It’s not been too warm, but towards the end we had the sun come up and the sun is what makes it excellent casting to all the associations.

“He has returned the flag in the same manner in which he received it this morning, unsullied and untarnished.”

Of the Common Riding, he said: “I think its a big thing that drives the small Borders towns as its a community event, there’s loads of spectators and as long as we uphold these traditions, the rest of the world changes, but Selkirk Common Riding never changes, it’s always the same and I think we are very, very fortunate that the community always comes together.

“Even if you are having problems, the common riding brings the people together.”

Overall the day was a success despite two riders suffering injuries, with one injured shoulder and one injured leg. Duties discharged, the principles and their supporters then went on to enjoy the races at Gala Rig.

Our Facebook Live posts from the Common Riding also attracted viewers from all over the world, with many from Australia, particularly, enjoying the feeds.

Indeed, the exiled Souters enjoyed it so much, they plan to hold their own Common Riding event down under next year.

Others who commented were in New Zealand and Canada. Closer to home, commenters came from Harrogate, Colchester, Edinburgh, Berwick and Hawick.