Kelso Civic Week ended in a triumph of great weather, an improved fancy dress parade and celebrations all round.
The eight-day annual festivities drew to a close on Saturday and man of the moment, Kelso Laddie Phil Hume, said: “I can’t find words to describe it: I had an absolute blast from start to finish.
“The Wednesday and Saturday are the main days and to be able to take part in them first hand was just immense and something I will never forget.”
Rain caused the tennis tournament to be postponed to last Thursday, and Tuesday evening’s rideout took place in a downpour.
But the weather was fair for the important installation of the 21-year-old in Kelso Square on Wednesday evening.
And the sun beamed down on the cavalcade departing Kelso for Yetholm on the week’s main rideout on Saturday morning.
Provost Fiona Scott bid the riders ‘safe oot, safe in’ as Phil, flanked by his Right and Left Hand Men Murray Playfair and Robert Hogarth, left, leading 152 followers and several cyclists.
Later villagers and supporters watched the cavalcade descend the Venchen and cross the Bowmont Water to gallop up to the Yetholm war memorial for a welcome by Rev Robin McHaffie.
Phil laid a wreath before Bari Gadgi Daniel Blackburn presented the young principal with a Yetholm Jagger on the village green.
The Yetholm ride’s oldest rider was Janet Munro for the second year running, while the youngest was eight-year-old Katy McFadyen.
Saturday evening’s fancy dress parade saw the welcome return of several inspired floats such as Benidorm, some plankers and ex-Kelso Laddies as Take That. Other participants included NASA astronauts, a fumigation team for Haldanes, a Kelso Indian summer group and a Top Gear car – and all were piped through the streets of the town by Kelso and Coldstream Pipe Bands.
On Wednesday evening Provost Fiona Scott started the installation ceremony, recounting a little of the history of Kelso and its civic week and, recalling the town’s young men leaving for war, she also remembered those currently serving overseas.
She then sashed henchmen Murray and Robert before entrusting Phil with the Kelso flag, exhorting him to ‘dae richt, fear nocht’.
Crowds, six deep in places, watched as Lady Bussers Jodie Osbourne, Lara Patterson, Baillie Steele and Sienna Woodhead tied ribbons bearing the words freedom, honour, valour and wisdom onto the flag lowered by Phil.
The Laddie then roared out ‘Fear nocht’ before returning to the platform and telling those assembled: “It is with immense pride and honour that I stand here as Kelso Laddie 2011.”
He thanked his family, neighbours and people of Kelso for their “phenomenal” support and vowed to return the Kelso standard on Saturday ‘unsullied and untarnished’.
This year the festival celebrated its first diamond Ex-Kelso Laddie as Adam Fairbairn marked 60 years since his leading role in the festivities.
Provost Scott and Laddie Phil made a presentation to the venerable ex-Laddie as the rest of that select band of men rose to their feet and joined the crowd in applauding Mr Fairbairn.
Then Phil joined Jethart Callant Ryan Miller, his attendants and the lady bussers in dancing the Kelso Laddie’s reel to music from piper Alan Veitch while the crowd clapped.
Provost Scott presented silver jubilee Laddie Douglas Veitch with his 25-year medal and president of the ex-Kelso Laddies Club, Eric Paxton, presented Billy Paterson with the club’s lifetime achievement award (see report on page 30) before three cheers for Phil concluded the evening’s ceremony.
On Thursday, 53 riders followed Phil to Floors Castle before the Grand Civic Week Ball in Springwood Park when revellers enjoyed music by The Strangers and Western Rhythm.
On Friday, 37 horsemen and women took part in the historic Whipmans Ride following Phil and his Right and Left Hand Men to the trysting tree in Friarshaugh, where the Laddie carved out his initials.
Phil said of the week: “It was unbelievable. I knew I would have a great time: you see everyone else’s weeks and how they enjoy them, but when your one actually arrives and local folk are out supporting you, it’s just something else.”
Highlights for him were the bussing ceremony on Wednesday, Saturday’s big rideout and the Whipman’s Ride: “Wednesday night is such a spectacle. I’ve watched it in previous years and, if it’s not the best, it’s one of the best (installations). It’s a beautiful setting and it was amazing to do it. Saturday was a great day and I enjoyed Friday night and learning more about the historical side of the ride.”
Kelso Laddie’s mother and a former Lady Busser herself, Isla Hume said: “The week did bring back a lot of memories, but I was enjoying watching Phil.
“I’m very proud of him. It was just amazing, a really, really brilliant week and the support from Kelso was great.”
Association secretary Richie Allan said: “It was a great week, the weather was kind, except on Tuesday night, and the parade was a great improvement, so hopefully it will continue in the years to come,”