Whitehead and Black prove to be Braw Gala match

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“It is the best feeling ever,” reflected Kevin Smith, Braw Lad 25 years ago, during the early-morning Breakfast which has now become tradition.

Less than six hours later, Daniel Whitehead and Lucy Black knew exactly what the exiled Galalean meant.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

They had spent the morning riding the boundaries of their home town, reliving its past and creating memories of their own.

And the statement of the 1988 Braw Lad proved not to be hyperbole.

There were plenty of tears in the Burgh Chambers as Daniel handed back the flag, but none from the 21-year-old, who took it all in his stride and wore a contended smile at the end.

Daniel told The Southern: “I am a laid-back guy and the fact I have ridden on Gala Day five times before helped me out. But nothing compares to leading the horses – it is a whole different experience.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

“I was a bit nervous getting the flag, but apart from that I was a lot calmer than I thought I would be.

“The morning went by so quickly. I went up Scott Street and just wanted to do it again.

“The whole day was great, from getting the flag to dipping it at the war memorial.”

Lucy struggled to find the words to some up her feelings at the end, with tears flowing after she and Daniel received a glowing tribute from President Andrew Johnston.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

The 23-year-old said: “It is just overwhelming.

“It has been a really emotional day for me – I did not think it would affect me like this. We have had so much support, it is so overwhelming. The whole day has gone so fast. It has exceeded all expectations.

“I am already so excited for next year’s Braw Lad and Lass, because it is such a great experience.”

Provost J. S. Hayward and Braw Lad Adam H. Polson were the first to carry out the act back in 1930, and 83 years on it was President Johnston who handed the Burgh Standard to Braw Lad Whitehead on the balcony of the Burgh Chambers with Daniel promising to “Uphold the honour and tradition” of Galashiels.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

So, the cavalcade of 367 made its way down Tweed Road to the Raid Stane, where the first mention of Galashiels as a community was made in 1337, when legend says that a group of locals slayed English raiders.

The service saw the sprigs of the wild plum tree attached to the jackets of the Braw Lad, Bearer of the Sod Ryan Mania and Bearer of the Stone Lewis Playfair by Braw Lass Black, Bearer of the Red Roses Nicola Mackay and Bearer of the White Roses Suzanne Henry respectively. Across the River Tweed the horses then went, waved on by huge crowds on a dry morning.

With Abbotsford preparing for a visit from The Queen, the house hosted the principals of Galashiels before they headed back through the water at Boleside and over Gala Hill.

The poignant Old Town Cross ceremony sees the Braw Lass take on the main role and Lucy paid tribute with a perfectly-timed Mixing of the Roses.

After meeting John Scott, the 10th Laird of Galashiels, in Old Gala House, the Braw Lad and Lass led the cavalcade charge up Scott Street in front of the biggest crowd of the day.

And then came the simple, but solemn act of Daniel dipping the standard at the war memorial, with horse Tikka ensuring the flag faced the plaque bearing the names of 756 Galashiels men killed in conflict.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

And, as Daniel handed back the flag at 12.30pm, the words of Braw Lad Smith seemed apt.

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin

Braw Lads Gatherin.

Braw Lads Gatherin.