BROTHERS Cameron and Ewen Young made history last Wednesday when Cameron followed Ewen as Peebles Cornet.
It is the first time in the history of the March Riding and Beltane Queen Festival that a brother has relinquished custody of the burgh banner to see it immediately entrusted to a sibling.
Festival chairman and 1979 cornet Alistair Dodds was the man in the middle who oversaw the historic installation.
He said: “It is an absolute privilege to be part of this and to see a young man like Cameron flourish and enjoy what he is doing.”
Ewen had carried the banner from the Quadrangle to the front of the Parish Church where his year as cornet officially came to and end – and his term as right-hand man began.
He told gathered townsfolk: “I have enjoyed immensely being your cornet. I will look back with the fondest of memories on the experience. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and I must hand back the burgh banner. But I can’t think of a better person to hand it to, than my little brother.”
For his Lass, Laura Cox, it was also an emotional moment. She told the new cornet and his Lass, Rae Brown: “Take a moment whenever you can, take a deep breath and take it all in. Believe me, your year will flash by in an instant.”
New cornet, Cameron proclaimed: “It is hard to describe how lucky I am. Beltane Week is second to none.”
His Lass Rae admitted: “I have followed the Beltane Festival from a young age, but I never believed I would be standing here tonight delivering this speech. I am so honoured.”
Later, after the reel had been danced on the High Street, the cornet would declare: “That was the most fantastic night of my life I just want to go there, jump back on a horse, and do it all again.
“I am sure that we could get everyone back out again. The atmosphere and the weather made it brilliant. There were thousands of people out there, all cheering.”
With the all-important installation ceremony completed, it was into the saddle for Cornet Cameron, Lass Rae and their supporters to ride the marches of the Royal Burgh with the Boundary and Right of Way proclaimed at Soonhope.
The cavalcade would later split to allow the principals to make their way to Neidpath Castle while the remaining riders headed out for Morning Hill.
At this ancient keep, there was another man of the moment – Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore. The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP was installed as Warden of Neidpath and during his address he reflected on his time as an MP for Peebles and the county, and spoke of his pride of being the only person who had ever represented the four Border counties in the House of Commons.
As we reported last week, he spoke of the challenges facing Scotland and the burgh of Peebles itself – the commercial viability of the High Street, the town’s future as a tourist destination and the location of a new bridge over the Tweed.
It was then back to the saddle for the principals and car seats for the others.
Cornet Cameron’s party rejoined the cavalcade for the remainder of the night’s ride, including the fording of the Tweed from South Parks to Hay Lodge Park at Fotheringham Bridge and onwards to the golf course for the chases where the Beltane Bell was won by Peebles trainee jockey Ross Wilson.
The official part of the evening was slowly – though too quickly for the Cornet – drawing to a close.
As the riders disbanded, the principals danced the Cornet’s Reel outside the Tontine Hotel, toasts were drunk from the Australian Stirrup Cup – and a few parties were about to begin.