Ben ready for year in saddle as Melrosian

Melrosian elect 2019 Ben Magowan.
Melrosian elect 2019 Ben Magowan.

Film-maker Ben Magowan has been named as Melrosian elect for 2019 and will represent the town across the Borders common riding circuit this summer.

The 23-year-old, from Gattonside, was introduced to his supporters and predecessors at the Ex-Melrosians’ Association’s annual Burns supper at the Greenyards on Saturday evening.

Having graduated from London South Bank University as a children’s nurse last November, the former Melrose Grammar, St Mary’s School and Earlston High School pupil is currently working for London-based boating firm Go Boat as a videographer.

Delighted the secret is now out, Ben said: “It’s obviously a real surprise to be offered the chance to take on the position.

“It’s a role that has been out of sights for me, so it’s an honour to be asked and a lovely gesture from the town.”

He added: “I was very nervous on Saturday before the announcement but I am more settled now.

“I am obviously very honoured to taking up the position and am looking forward to all the events in the summer to come.”

Ben will be supported by his dad Brian, a doctor at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose, and mum Ruth, a part-time nurse there and lecturer at Queen Margaret’s University in Edinburgh, as well as his elder brother Jonathon, with whom he lives in London, and younger sisters Rachel, of Glasgow, and Hannah, now in her final year at Earlston high School.

Before his move to London, Ben was involved in the town’s rugby and tennis clubs, having played rugby for Melrose Colts and enjoyed being a member of Melrose Tennis Club.

Having been a long time out of the horse saddle, though, Ben is looking forward to getting in a course of intense riding lessons ahead of his first time leading a cavalcade in June.

He said: “I used to ride when I was a lot younger, but I’ve never done any of the Borders rideouts before.

“I had my first lesson on Saturday morning, and it went quite well.

“It was my first time on a horse in 12 years and it went okay. I wasn’t too uncomfortable anyway.”

Ben will be relying on the train to journey up and down throughout the summer and says which rideout he follows first will depend on how the riding lessons go.

“It’s fairly early days for deciding which ride to do first,” he said.

“Mosspaul would be an amazing rideout to do, but whether I can get my skill level up before then is the question.”

Ben will be supported through that time by right and left-hand men Harry Fletcher and Russell Mackay, both of whom he has known since his days at both Melrose Primary and Earlston High School.

“They have been a great help to me with everything so far with answering all my questions. I am sure we will have a great summer together,” Ben added.

Their first official duty will be the picking night for the queen and her court on Friday, May 3, before the three men lead Melrose Festival through its week-long festivities from June 16 to 22.