The sunshine that graced each of the Jethart’s Callant Festivals’s rideouts these last few weeks left it until the last minute to appear on Friday.
But it did so in style, breaking through the haze just as the 2019 Jethart Callant, Euan Munro, rose from his saddle to thrust the burgh flag aloft and cry ‘Jethart’s here’.
And for the 25-year-old agricultural engineer that cry heralded the start of one of the biggest days of his life.
From the moment the Jedforest Instrumental Band played round to Abbey Place, followed shortly after by new herald Rob Reid sounding his horn, the town’s pipe band and the 73rd Jethart Callant at the head of his cavalcade, Euan said did his best to take it all in.
“It was an emotional morning,” he said. “Coming around the square and into Abbey Place is something I will never forget. Seeing all the people on the side of the street and all along the ramparts was amazing.”
That happy and huge crowd fell silent as the flag was bussed by provost’s wife Helen Oliver and remained silent during the minutes that followed.
It wasn’t until Euan remounted his horse, took in his surroundings and gave the immortal battle cry that the crowd erupted into cheers and a rousing rendition of Jethart’s Here to wave the cavalcade on its way.
“I couldn’t look at my mum when I went forwards, and when I did I had to look away, Euan added. “I only managed to catch her eye for about two seconds. It was a relief to get the battle cry through, and I relaxed a bit after that.”
And if there were any lingering nerves they were kept well hidden as the Ancrum lad led the town’s biggest day of the year.
Alongside his herald and right and left-hand men Nick Arnold and Brodie Irvine, Euan led a 250-strong mounted cavalcade to Ferniehirst.
There, Jedburgh Grammar School pupil Alexander Edwards gave a stirring rendition of The Reprisal, Walter Laidlaw’s account of how an English occupation of the castle was broken in 1575.
Speaker Lord Lothian then addressed the crowds for what he believed to be the 67th time.
Further visits to Lintalee and the capon tree followed before the cavalcade returned to the town, crossed the water and fell silent once again for an act of remembrance at the war memorial.
“The war memorial was one of the best bits for me,” Euan said. “It’s the most important part of the day and the bit you really want to get right.
“I knew my parents and everyone were a couple feet away from me but I didn’t see a soul. I was only looking right in front of me at the memorial.
“It was a bit like that morning with the battle cry, a few folk said the sun broke through the clouds just at that moment, but I never noticed.
“Everyone told me to take it all in, but you can’t. That’s just impossible.”
Duties completed, Euan returned the flag before accepting the callant’s cup, leading the national anthem and acknowledging his followers.
Beside the young callant every step of the way this year were his parents Graham and Audrey, brother Cammy, back from America for the big day, and lass Dani Kirkman.
“They’ve all been absolutely brilliant and a great support to me. I can’t thank them enough,” Euan added.
“My right and left-hand men Brodie and Nick, and herald and Rob, have helped me massively. I couldn’t have asked for better and they did a great job.
“I’m still trying to take all of last week in but can look forward to Kelso Civic Week now and taking part in the colour bussing ceremony and rideout on Saturday.
See all our photos from the week here: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/in-pictures-jethart-callant-s-festival-1-4966561