Kelso Laddie Mark Henderson followed in family footsteps last week, leading the town’s civic celebrations as his brother, father and uncle have done before him.
The accomplished horseman, who has ridden at every Borders celebration since June, finally got the chance to lead his own town’s civic week.
And being the fourth in his family to do so, Mark had no shortage of advice from brother Ross, the 2014 laddie, father Jim, who led the 1987 civic week, and uncle Colin Henderson, the 1980 laddie.
But the town only had eyes on the 22-year-old this civic week, which enjoyed tremendous support from townsfolk despite almost every event falling foul of bad weather.
Last Wednesday evening, spectators from across the Borders flocked to Kelso’s cobbled square, brollies in hand, to see Mark take hold of the burgh standard from honorary provost Dean Weatherston, who commended townsfolk on braving the downpour.
Colour-bussers Codi Watson, Skye Nairn, Ellie Burton and Madison Wemyss, decorated the town standard with ribbons detailing those four famed words – freedom, honour, valour and wisdom.
The downpour was surely at its heaviest as Mark thrust the flag aloft with the cry “Fear nocht!”
And while the bussers returned to their seats, sheltered beneath ex-laddies offering not only a brolly above them but their suit jackets too, Mark addressed the hundreds of supporters surrounding the square. He spoke of his pride at being entrusted with the town flag and paid tribute to his bussers.
He said: “It is with great honour and pride that I stand here and receive the burgh standard, the greatest honour this town will ever give me and my family.
“Thank you to my lady bussers Codi, Ellie, Maddison and Skye for the amazing job you have done tonight, carrying out your duties with such grace and beauty.
“You are all such a credit to your families.
“Since my declaration in April I have had the pleasure of attending many other Border festivals representing our town and it’s good to see so many of you here tonight.
“Thank you all for the hospitality and warm welcomes you have given me and I’m sure the people of Kelso will make you feel just as welcome.”
Thanking his henchmen, family and townsfolk, he added: “I could not have done this without you all.
“With the backing of my right and left-hand men Sean and Craig and the backing of the people of Kelso I’m sure I can help make this a civic week to remember before I return the burgh standard unsullied and untarnished on Saturday night.”
And he did just that.
On Saturday, the sun finally shone for Mark as he led a 208-strong mounted cavalcade over the hills to Yetholm, where, watched by Rev Ian Clark, he laid a wreath before riding on to Kirk Yetholm.
There, he was welcomed by this year’s Bari Gadgi, Stefan Cameron, and Bari Manushi, Emma Wauchope, for the customary presentation of a jagger.
And while the heavy downpours which graced almost all of the week’s events at one stage or another, reappeared just as the cavalcade dismounted in Yetholm, it remained fair for most of the return to town, that evening’s fancy dress and for the presentation of the Kelso Laddie’s coveted blue bonnet and medal.
Mark was also supported by his right and left-hand men Sean Hook and Craig Logan, and his lass and girlfriend Kim Fleming.
At last week’s ceremony gifts were also presented to this year’s 25th and 50th anniversary celebrants, 1995 Neil Cowe and Arthur Hastie, the 1969 laddie.
This year’s citizen award went to Susan Glendinning for her years of volunteering with the Sunday school and church, the town’s drama clubs, the civic week, as well as 40 years as leader of the 1st Kelso Guides.