THE Corn Exchange in Melrose was packed to capacity on Friday evening for the appointment of 2011 Melrosian Ruaridh Nairn and Festival Queen Kirsty Davidson.
The 19-year-old student’s honour was announced at the Ex-Melrosians’ Burns Supper in January, but there were whoops of delight when 11-year-old Kirsty Davidson was declared Queen and invited, with her court, on to the stage to be congratulated by Mac Brown, joint chairman of the Melrose Festival executive.
The Melrose Primary pupil from Darnick won the right to be crowned at the spectacular ceremony in Melrose Abbey on Thursday, June 23, by excelling in tests, including maths, essay writing and art, which are open to all senior pupils at the school.
The winners had been notified earlier on Friday by the executive’s other two joint chairmen, Douglas Hardie and George Bunyan.
It began when 2011 Melrosian Scott Marjoribanks formally retired and returned his sash of office to Mr Brown, who congratulated the 26-year-old actuary on the exemplary manner he had carried out his duties last year.
Scott was then installed Right Hand Man and instructed, along with Left Hand Man Clark Eaton-Turner, to escort Ruraidh to the platform – and the hall burst into applause when the youngster was presented with his official rosette by Mr Brown’s wife Trudy.
Mr Brown then invited Queen Kirsty and her court on to the stage to further enthusiastic approbation.
The full court is as follows: First attendant – Thea Whincop; second attendant – Bethany Hamilton; courtier (proclamation) – Jack Short; courtier (bearer of crown and sceptre) – Patrick Heger; heralds – Finlay Wilson and Gregor Carruthers; trainbearers (from P1) – Orla Lynch and Freya Tullis.
Following the half-hour appointment ceremony, Ruaridh was carried by Scott and Clark in the traditional procession, three times around the Mercat Cross, to the acclamation of large crowds, before returning to the hall for a wine and cheese reception. Music was provided by St Boswells Concert Band.
Ruaridh, the elder son of Keith and Clare Nairn of Fairways, Melrose, and an environmental science student at Stirling University, was in fine form, waving to the crowds and clearly elated by the experience.
“It is something I have always wanted to do, having followed the Melrose Festival for years,” said Ruaridh whose father was Duns Reiver in 1983.
“My riding lessons have been going well and I can hardly wait for my big week. It will be a fantastic honour and privilege to represent Melrose at the other Border festivals,” added Ruaridh, a keen rugby player who turns out regularly in the second row for Melrose Knights.