The smile on the face of this year’s Jethart Callant, Euan Munro, as he walked onto the hustings on Friday left townsfolk in no doubt as to how much the role means to him.
The 25-year-old, of the Knowes at Ancrum, was named as the 73rd Jethart Callant and grinned from ear to ear as one of the Borders’ best-kept secrets was finally revealed.
And for the agricultural engineer, only back from a winter working in New Zealand in February, declaration night signalled the end to weeks of having to keep schtum.
“It was a very hard secret to keep,” Euan said. “Since I got back, I’ve had to keep out of the way of everybody.
“I kept out of the pub and didn’t go out much just to avoid any situations that might involve talking about it.
“It was a big relief to get it out there and not have to lie to anyone anymore.”
Euan studied at Ancrum and Parkside primaries and Jedburgh Grammar School before completing his apprenticeship with WM Dodds, now known as Thomas Sheriff, in Jedburgh.
He’s spent the last four winters working in Australia and New Zealand, returning each summer to Sheriff’s, for whom he now works in Coldstream, and to follow the festival.
He first followed the festival as a youngster behind callant Steven Turnbull in 2000 before taking to the saddle more seriously to follow pal Jack Fraser as the 2014 callant.
He’s ridden each year since, gained his Redeswire badge and followed the Hawick Cornet to Mosspaul and on common riding Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to leading the festival and going around the other towns, seeing what they all do and making new pals there,” Euan added. “It will be my first time riding at a lot of them.
“There was no hesitation at all that I wanted to be callant. I’ve done my travelling, and this feels like the right time.”
Behind him every step of the way will be his parents – Graham, a team leader at the Starrett tool plant in Jedburgh, and Audrey, who works in the town’s David Thomson store.
His younger brother Cameron, 23, is currently working as a leader at Camp America in Iowa but will be home for festival week to support on foot.
“There’s no chance of me getting him on a horse, but my mum has ridden all the Jed rideouts in the past and has her Redeswire badge, and her mum Mary Anderson was Lauder Cornet’s Lass in 1856,” added Euan. “Dad doesn’t ride, but his cousin Rory Stewart was the 1990 callant.
“My parents are both just really proud and happy.”
As well as being an experienced horseman, Euan is a member of Ancrum Bowling Club and previously played rugby for the town at both Jed Thistle and senior level.
Euan will be supported by his right and left-hand men, Nick Arnold and Brodie Irvine, new herald Robert Reid and callant’s lass Dani Kirkman, 23, of Jedburgh.
On Friday, hundreds of townsfolk turned out for the announcement by the town’s honorary provost, Harvey Oliver, before the new callant was carried out shoulder-high from the courthouse by his henchmen.
The celebrations that followed inside the town hall saw speeches from the provost, 1959 callant John Donald, festival convener Len Wyse and wife Mary, ex-callants’ association president John Mabon, Kelso Laddie Mark Henderson, Euan and his father Graham.
Euan’s first duty will be following Hawick Cornet Connor Brunton to Mosspaul on Saturday.
This year’s festival week runs from Saturday, July 7 to Friday, July to 12, with the first rideout two weeks before, to Morebattle on Sunday, June 29.