Galashiels’ Braw Lads’ Gathering enjoys Torwoodlee and fancy dress celebrations

Gala Fancy Dress. All aboard for Hogwarts.
Gala Fancy Dress. All aboard for Hogwarts.

THE weather just about behaved itself to allow Galashiels to enjoy last night’s (Wednesday) Torwoodlee rideout and annual fancy dress parade as part of the town’s Braw Lads’ Gathering.

A cavalcade of 166 headed out to Torwoodlee for the traditional ceremony which sees the Braw Lad and Lass meet James Pringle, the Laird of the estate.

Ryan Mania and Nicola Mackay also took part in a ceremony with the Laird which sees them receive a sod and stone from the 17th century Torwoodlee Tower to mark the 1503 marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor of England.

Both the sod and stone will be used in the moving Old Town Cross ceremony during Saturday’s Braw Lads’ Day, which also remembers the marriage of the Thistle and the Rose.

In his speech welcoming the Braw Lads party to Torwoodlee, James Pringle discussed his estate’s Halkburn Wood, which was named as one of only 60 in the UK to receive Diamond Jubilee Woodland status this year.

It has led to an open day on September 27 for 150 primary school children from Galashiels, who will take part in tree planting and learn what species live there.

He added: “I hope also that some of the children will come back over the years to watch the woodland grow and mature and to enjoy the fruits of their labour as children.

“I would like to think that some of them might have represented Galashiels along the way because it is these special people who make Gala what it is and what it can be, people like Ryan and Nicola.”

Ryan and Nicola led the riders back into the town behind the entertaining fancy dress, which this year poked fun at Galashiels’ long running inner relief roadworks, as well as the Borders Railway.

The newly formed Borders Olympics squad were also represented, as were plenty schools and nursery groups.

Tonight sees the civic reception for overseas visitors in the Volunteer Hall, followed by the Braw Lad and Lass receiving their sashes at Friday’s investiture event.

And when the town clock strikes 8am on Saturday, Ryan will be presented with the Burgh flag by Gathering president Andrew Johnson to mark the start of the festival’s big day.

For full coverage of the Braw Lads Gathering, including a four page photo special, read next week’s Southern.