Kelso’s ‘brilliant’ week of big crowds and sunshine

Organisers have hailed 2013 Kelso Civic Week a huge success after bumper crowds enjoyed eight fun-filled days of celebrations in the sun.

A cavalcade of 184 left the Square in fair weather at 8.30am on Saturday for the ride to Yetholm. Crowds five deep in places cheered in the evening sunlight as they enjoyed the moving installation ceremony in Kelso’s majestic Square on Wednesday night. And family day the previous weekend was one of the best ever as young and old enjoyed the occasion in Shedden Park, again in the sunshine.

Kelso Civic Week. Whipman Ride.

Kelso Civic Week. Whipman Ride.

Kelso Laddie Calum Thomson said: “The week was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The weather was perfect, the bussing went very well: the whole week was a highlight, I wouldn’t change it for the world – and I want to be Kelso Laddie next year!

“Shouting ‘fear nocht’ with the flag in the Square on Wednesday was a highlight for me and so was carrying the flag and cantering up the Haugh at Yetholm on Saturday.

“There was a great turnout of over 600 people for the ball and it was a really good night.

“I also really enjoyed all the kids events. They were good fun. I can remember when I was a little kid and the Kelso Laddie used to come and see us and I used to love it.”

Dad David, Kelso Laddie himself in 1984, had proudly ridden with his son to Yetholm.

Calum admitted the emotion of the week hit them both. He said: “On the Saturday when I got presented with my blue bonnet (on his return from Yetholm), I looked at my dad and he was upset.”

Calum’s moment came after everyone had been presented with their prizes on Saturday evening: “It was during my speech thanking everybody that was hard, and singing Kelsae Bonnie Kelsae for the last time as Kelso Laddie.”

He also thanked his Right and Left-Hand Men, Callum Vickers and Phil Hume, adding: “We had a lot of laughs.”

The Reverend Robin McHaffie welcomed Calum and his henchmen to the war memorial at Yetholm.

Calum laid a wreath before riding on to Kirk Yetholm where he was officially welcomed by Yetholm community council chairman David Hutchinson on the Green and Bari Gadgi Anders Cameron presented the Kelso principal with a Yetholm Jagger. Picnickers enjoyed lunch in the sun before the cavalcade rode back to Kelso where Caerwys Male Voice Choir sang for an hour in the Square on Saturday afternoon.

Right-Hand Man Callum’s mum Wilma Vickers presented Laddie Calum with his blue bonnet. And the platform party acknowledged and cheered the cavalcade as they rode past.

The Kelso Laddie presented the cup for the youngest rider to six-year-old Jake Dickson, son of Silver Jubilee Laddie Steven Dickson, who’d ridden to Yetholm with his dad. Jake was following in Steven’s footsteps for the latter had won the youngest rider’s cup in 1972 when he completed the route as a five-year-old. Calum also presented the trophy for the oldest rider to Burnett Smith, 63.

Kelso Laddies’ Association secretary Richie Allan said: “It was a very good week and I think everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather brought the crowds out and all the events went like clockwork. The Welsh choir on Saturday afternoon really went down well.”

Chief steward Douglas Veitch said: “It’s been tremendous. We couldn’t have asked for a better week. There were horse welfare issues (to watch for) with the hot weather and the ground was very hard, but we accommodated that and some of the rides were changed slightly.”