Peebles prepares for Beltane Red Letter Day

Cornet-Elect Keiran Scott gives a reading
Cornet-Elect Keiran Scott gives a reading

A proud Keiran Scott was last night installed as Peebles Cornet after the 2014 principal, Kevin Smith, handed back the burgh standard which he had received a year ago.

And by Keiran’s side as Cornet’s Lass was an equally-proud Beth Williamson.

The installation ceremony took place on a platform at the foot of the parish church steps – at the top of which primary seven pupil Emma Latto will be crowned, with much ceremony, as Beltane Queen on Saturday, Peebles’ red-letter day.

Hundreds watched last night’s ceremony and there were loud cheers when the burgh standard was bussed in fine style by Beth before riders took to the hills for the riding of the marches.

And as tradition dictates, a halt was made by the principals at ancient Neidpath Castle, which dominates a hill above a sweeping bend of the Tweed.

They were welcomed by this year’s Warden of Neidpath, Eric Gilmour, a man steeped in the history and traditions of Peebles. In his warden’s address, Eric took the younger generation as his main theme.

The Tweed was forded in Hay Lodge Park and horse racing for the coveted Beltane Bell and other trophies took place on the edge of the golf course.

Back in the town, as dusk fell, the Beltane Reel was danced in the middle of the High Street.

Beltane Week began on Sunday with the installation of the Reverend Ian Gray as Warden of the Cross Kirk.

To stirring Beltane airs, Peebles Silver Band led the official procession from the Quadrangle of the Chambers Institute to the hallowed ruins of the church which was founded by King Alexander in the late 1260s.

Ex-Cornets, Ex-Cornets’ Lasses, Beltane Queen Emma and her Court, youth organisations, the Beltane committee and many others joined the procession and attended the service.

Peebles Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band was also on parade.

Mr Gray, pastor of Peebles Baptist Church, was installed with his sash of office by the outgoing warden, Jim Benton Evans.

Pastor Gray involved the schoolchildren in the service, putting them in the roles of friars, knights, sailors and pirates to tell how the friars and monks raised money to pay ransoms to free knights captured in battle and sailors being held by pirates.

He declared: “People are prisoners in all sorts of ways. Sometimes in wars, sometimes to be slaves.

“Sometimes, people are prisoners to drugs or alcohol. All through history, God has been in the business of setting people free from captivity.”