History was made in Galashiels on Friday night when, for the first time, two sisters were elected as principals for the same Gathering year.
Braw Lass Alice Mackay will be supported by elder sister, Nicola, the Braw Lass of two years ago, in the latter’s final Gathering role as Bearer of the White Roses.
Also announced from the balcony of the Burgh Chambers to the crowds waiting on Lawyers’ Brae on a dreich declaration evening was Braw Lad for 2014, Gavin Young; Bearer of the Sod Daniel Whitehead; Bearer of the Red Roses Lucy Black, and Bearer of the Stone Ryan Mania.
The 22-year-old Galashiels-born Braw Lad was educated at Stow and Heriot Primary Schools, followed by Galashiels Academy.
Gavin works as an agricultural sales representative and on the family farm at Crookston.
He has varied interests, including keeping fit and horse riding, and has played rugby for Gala since the age of 17.
Alice, 19, attended school at Caddonfoot Primary School and Galashiels Academy, and was a student at Borders College. She now runs her own beauty therapy business and lists horse riding and keeping fit among her interests.
“It’s so exciting, and to be a principal at the same time as my sister just makes the whole thing even more special,” said Alice.
Gavin told us Friday had been an amazing night: “It was overwhelming, I don’t know if it’s even sunk in properly yet.
“It’s such a great honour. It was a bit nerve-wracking waiting in that room to be introduced to everyone, but afterwards the night just flew past. I’m looking forward to what will now be a very busy summer!”
Although the heavens had opened and forced the cancellation of the traditional schoolchildren’s dancing, Gathering chairman David Houston was still pleased with the way the evening went.
“It was a very good night and once again we have a great set of principals,” he told The Southern this week.
“It was a real shame about the children’s dancing but it couldn’t be helped because of the weather.
“Other than that though, everything went well.”
Mr Houston admitted that the Gathering faces fresh challenges this year due to work in the centre of the town on the new Borders railway link and flood prevention measures.
“These will pose challenges but I’m sure everyone will take them in their stride and the 2014 Gathering will be fantastic.”