One word sums up Melrose Festival and the town which gave birth to it – inclusivity – and it is something all in the town should be proud of.
That was the message from the guest orator, retired vet Nigel Brown, at Thursday night’s festival installation and crowning ceremonies in the grounds of the town’s ruined abbey.
The weather could not have been better, with warm evening sunshine showing the abbey ruins off to their magnificent best.
It was the perfect setting for the crowd and guests that gathered to see Fraser Anderson installed as the 2014 Melrosian and Charlie Hume crowned as Festival Queen.
Northern Ireland-born Mr Brown retired last year after 37 years as a vet based in St Boswells.
In what proved a humorous speech, but one not without a serious message, Mr Brown told the audience that he considered it a great honour that he had been invited to give the address and that his partner, Mrs Gilly Innes, headteacher at Melrose Primary School, had been asked to be Crowning Lady.
“It is this wonderful inclusion of an incoming foreigner that makes Melrose special,” said Mr Brown.
“So the one word I’d like to ask you to remember is inclusivity. What I mean is inclusion and inclusion is what makes Melrose a special place – you include everyone.
“This ceremony encapsulates all that is great about Borders life, especially in Melrose – everyone is included.
The gates are open, anyone can walk in.
“From newborns to nonagenarians, all can come to this ceremony. This week celebrates inclusion from the kirkin’, to the rideout, bike ride, tour of ceremonies and the sports – Melrose is for everyone.”
Mr Brown said his son Kelly, a professional rugby player with Saracens and a regular in the Scotland team, who had played club rugby for Melrose, remained proud of his connection with the town.
“So no matter where you boys and girls end up, and you will spread all over the world, Melrose will forever be home. And Melrose will forever welcome you home.”
Mr Brown mentioned his passion for rugby. “I like rugby. I like Melrose rugby and what a season we’ve had – Scottish champions and undisputed kings of the sevens.
“Congratulations to everyone at the club and everyone in Melrose, because here, the club is the town and the town is the club.
“Everyone is included. I like rugby, both my sons played for Melrose. I like rugby, I like the friendships it generates and I like the life values it cherishes.
“All over Saracens’ training and playing facilities are plastered four words – humility, honesty, discipline and workrate. These are great values for us all to build on and live our lives around.
“Humility to enjoy success, but not forget all who helped on the way; honesty to accept life as it happens and accept responsibility for your actions; discipline to be the best you can and workrate to achieve that potential.”
Mr Brown then offered his congratulations to the Festival Queen and her court and to the Melrosian, and urged them to remember it was a precious honour they had been given and one which they needed to treasure and nurture for future generations.
And he concluded: “So to everyone, I say this is Melrose Festival – be proud to be Melrose, be proud to include everyone. Feel part of what Melrose Festival is.”
The evening’s ceremonies had opened with the installation of the 2014 Melrosian, Fraser Anderson, by festival chairman, James Marjoribanks.
The Ex-Melrosian’s Rosette went to Ruaridh Nairn, Melrosian in 2011, and the Silver Jubilee Melrosian’s medal to Cameron Crawford.
The Festival Queen was then crowned by Mrs Innes, after which Mr Marjoribanks introduced the Queen’s court – First Attendant Katherine Donaghy; Second Attendant Heather Panter; Courtier Ruaridh Tullis; Courtier Matthew Kirk; Heralds Ben Lynch and Lex Daunas and Trainbearers Maia Thomson and Lucy Whiting.
The Silver Jubilee Queen Julie Dee (nee Brown) could not be present as she lives in New Zealand, but Golden Jubilee Queen Sheila Forsyth (nee Wheelans), was at the ceremony and received a bouquet.
Left-Hand Man, Ex-Melrosian Graeme Crawford, gave the vote of thanks before the Melrosian, Festival Queen and her Court toured the town on the traditional triumphal procession.