And the Braw Lad and Lass are ...

The latest additions to a long line of Braw Lads and Lasses were revealed in Galashiels in glorious conditions on Friday evening.

Braw Lads Gathering President Bill White, in his first year in office, was bathed in the last sunlight of a beautiful day as he stepped out onto the balcony of the Burgh Chambers and told the large crowd that Greg Kelly and Kimberley O'May would lead the town's festivities this year, as well as represent Galashiels in the wider Borders in other town's festivals.

2018 Braw Lad Greg Kelly and Braw Lass Kimberley O'May

2018 Braw Lad Greg Kelly and Braw Lass Kimberley O'May

Greg, a 21-year-old sales assistant at Booker Wholesale in Netherdale, says he was "ecstatic" at his appointment.

The former St Peter's and Galashiels Academy pupil said: "I'm glad the secret is out. It's been a hard one to keep, as we were told back in February.

"I'm really looking forward to the summer ahead. Me, my dad and my sister have followed the Gathering all our lives on horseback.

"I remember on school visits, when the Braw Lad came in, I remember thinking I wish that could be me, and here I am tonight.

The picking night crowd soak up the last of the day's sun

The picking night crowd soak up the last of the day's sun

"i'm just delighted."

Greg, who handily lists among his hobbies horse riding and socialising, said he was looking forward to representing his town alongside Kimberley.

The new Braw Lass, who is 25, is an administration assistant at Scottish Borders Council.

She said: "It's absolutely amazing. I'm so excited to be here.

Greg and Kimberley are introduced to the cheering crowds by gathering president Bill White

Greg and Kimberley are introduced to the cheering crowds by gathering president Bill White

"It's a huge honour and a privilege to be chosen. It's something I have always dreamed of doing.

"It's just so nice to be able to carry on the traditions that have been going for many years."

Those traditions may be given a little tweak this year, said new Gathering chairman Jody Millar, who told us he was "very proud" to take the reins.

He said: "Of course, we will never change the ceremonies as they are very dear to us, and they will remain the same for ever, hopefully,

Bill White, front, is flanked by the new Braw Lad and Lass, Greg and Kimberley, while the other attendants, Greg Robertson, Amy Thomson, Mark Hood and Alex Mundell, look on.

Bill White, front, is flanked by the new Braw Lad and Lass, Greg and Kimberley, while the other attendants, Greg Robertson, Amy Thomson, Mark Hood and Alex Mundell, look on.

"But what we will be looking to do is perhaps introduce more family-oriented things on the Saturday afternoon.

"So that could be something to look out for in Bank Street, so there are exciting times ahead."

While the new-look committee are looking to freshen up proceedings, they know how important the traditions are.

Jody said: "There are so many things changing in this world, and I think that if we don't hold onto the things that are dear to us, we will lose them.

"Gala comes to life at the Braw Lads Gathering and it really has a buzz about it, and it wouldn't be the same if we didn't have that.

"We are all volunteers, and we will all strive to make sure that these things stay with us for as long as possible."

The other attendants were also introduced to the crowd.

The bearers of the sod and red roses are last year's Braw Lad and Lass, Greg Robertson and Amy Thomson, while the bearers of the stone and white roses are Mark Hood and Alex Mundell, who were the leading principals in 2016.

The crowd were treated to a medley of tunes from both the Galashiels Ex-Service Pipe Band and the St Ronan's Silver Band, with the latter providing the uplifting music for the traditional reel with selected primary school pupils after the announcement.

If the excitement of the crowd at the picking night is anything to go by, this year's gathering could be something special.

The Braw Lads Gathering will take place from June 22 to July 1, with Braw Lads Day on Saturday, June 30.

The picking night was broadcast live on our Facebook page, allowing many "exiles" from all over the world to watch the proceedings.

See Thursday's Southern Reporter for more photographs of the evening.