WATCH: Melrose principals are announced

A glorious evening and a packed Melrose Square greeted the new Melrosian elect, festival queen and her court on Friday evening.

There was huge turnout for the unveiling of the young principals for 2017 and the appointment of Russell Mackay as Melrosian elect.

Melrosian elect Russell Mackay at the official appointment in Melrose Square with left hand man Donald Crawford and right hand man Struan Hutchison.

Melrosian elect Russell Mackay at the official appointment in Melrose Square with left hand man Donald Crawford and right hand man Struan Hutchison.

This year’s festival queen was announced as 12-year-old Ilona Cockburn, a primary seven pupil from Darnick.

She will be aided by train-bearers Orlaith Dickson and Olivia Milne, heralds Christopher Carter and Rory Hamilton, crown and sceptre courtier Campbell Lightly-West, proclamation courtier Finlay Tullis and attendants Anna Ross and Anna Fairclough.

Three new roles as lead cyclists, to assist the Melrosian at the head of a community bike ride, will be held by youngsters Angus Mollart, Ben Henderson and Orla Lynch.

Chloe Cormack won the youngsters’ art competition and will see her painting decorate the front of this year’s festival brochure.

The Melrose Festival Queen Ilona Cockburn with her court in Melrose Square on appointment night.

The Melrose Festival Queen Ilona Cockburn with her court in Melrose Square on appointment night.

Russell, a 21-year-old farmer, is no stranger to appointment night, having been a herald in the court in 2007.

He said: “The position of Melrosian is the highest award a town can offer and, for me, a lifetime’s ambition has been fulfilled tonight.

“Since standing here on the stage as a herald in 2007, it has been a dream of mine to stand here again as Melrosian, and I am delighted to be given the opportunity.

“Since my appointment in January, I have been totally overwhelmed by the expressions of support and good wishes which my family and I have received.

Melrosian Russell Mackay at the official appointment tonight.

Melrosian Russell Mackay at the official appointment tonight.

“As my first official function as newly elected Melrosian, it’s great to see so many people here who I am sure I can count on for the rest of the summer.”

He added: “Congratulations to the queen and her court. All of your hard work has paid off, and I look forward to getting to know you all over the coming weeks.

The court’s young supporters were also presented with rosettes before Russell was carried three times around the mercat cross by left and right-hand men Donald Crawford and Struan Hutchison.

Russell will be presented with his sash of office at a ceremony in Melrose Abbey on Thursday, June 22.

Train bearers Orlaith Dickson and Olivia Milne.

Train bearers Orlaith Dickson and Olivia Milne.

Festival chairman Michael Crawford told Russell: “On behalf of all of us, we wish you every success in what we recognise is an arduous task.

“I can assure you as an ex-Melrosian that you have the support of your right and left-hand men and of all my fellow ex-Melrosians, the festival executive and the people of Melrose.”

Russell will be presented with his sash of office at a ceremony in Melrose Abbey on Thursday, June 22.

Mr Crawford also paid tribute to outgoing left-hand man Fraser Anderson whose time as a principal came to an end on Friday evening. He said: “You were an excellent Melrosian in 2014 and gave first class service as right hand man to Donald Crawford and in particular the courageous manner that you supported Struan as his left hand man in sometimes trying circumstances. A great effort, well done.”