The guest speaker at Innerleithen’s Cleikum Ceremonies on Friday night emphasised the importance of committees working together.
Former Peebles Cornet Allan Beveridge took the opportunity of his speech during the Memorial Hall ceremonies to highlight the need for small towns to assist each other to ensure that the Border festivals can continue long into the future.
Introducing Mr Beveridge, chairman Keith Belleville said: “This is a tribute for all the help and support that we here in Innerleithen get from Peebles.”
Mr Beveridge responded: “I am very honoured to be asked to be guest speaker, and I believe I am only the fourth Peebles man to be honoured in this way.”
Mr Beveridge spoke about the links between Peebles and Innerleithen, so often seen as great rivals, highlighting many names associated with both towns. He listed a number of Peebles residents who had gone on to become principals in Innerleithen, including this year’s Standard Bearer’s Lass Zoe Taylor.
Mr Beveridge, a former Peebles Rugby Club president, also ran off a list of names of players from Innerleithen who are plying their trade at The Gytes, helping to get the club promoted.
“A lot of people talk about the rivalry, but it does not really exist. It is banter between friends,” he said.
Mr Beveridge has been joint secretary of Peebles’ Beltane Festival for almost 40 years, and he praised the committee at Innerleithen for all the help and support they have provided over the years.
Commenting on the importance of all the Border festivals, Mr Beveridge said: “Each festival is unique and each town has its own traditions to follow.
“We have a duty of care to maintain and uphold the traditions passed down by our predecessors.”
However, he emphasised the need for “new blood and new ideas” within committees across the Borders, to ensure festivals can continue.
“New people are coming to live in our midst, and a lot of these new people are not aware of the history and traditions of our festivals, but a lot of these people who come into our towns do a lot more than those born and brought up there,” he said.
Mr Beveridge added that festival committees should actively encourage these people to join them.
He concluded: “I hope our two committees can continue to have good relations and help each other out whenever possible.
“I think we can and should be doing more for each other.
“I hope the Beltane and Games remain for a long time to come.”
Speaking during a brief lull in the festivities on Friday evening, Mr Belleville said that the week had been a great success.
“It has all gone really well. We have had a fantastic week and everything has run really smoothly.
“People say that the weather makes it, but I think it is the people that make it, although the weather has been fantastic.”
Commenting on the ceremony, and Aaron Somerville’s emotional return of the Blue Banner, Mr Belleville said: “It means such a lot for these lads to represent the town, and the Cleikum Ceremonies are emotionally charged anyway, all packed into 60 or 80 minutes.
“Aaron has been a fantastic Standard Bearer and he deserved the applause that he got.”
Mr Belleville added: “Lyle has taken over and he is a really unassuming lad, but he is doing a great job – he probably doesn’t realise how good a job – and he is going to be another great Standard Bearer.”
The chairman also praised the young people involved in the Cleikum Ceremonies.
“We ask quite a lot of them, and they don’t get a lot of rehearsal time, but they did so well.”
Mr Belleville said that he was pleased with the “excellent turnout” both in the Memorial Hall and in the High Street to watch the procession to St Ronan’s Well.
Large attendances were something of a feature of the week, with around 400 children taking part in the flower parade, and more than 300 people at the ball. The entry for the fancy dress was also strong this year, and more than 80 people attended the senior citizens’ social.
The 10 days of events concluded on Saturday night with the annual torchlit procession and burning of the De’il on Caerlee Hill.
Due to safety concerns following the extended period of dry weather, the decision was taken for all but ‘St Ronan’s’ torch to be doused in the town before the procession continued up the hill.
The assembled crowd then enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display.
Looking back on the whole week, Mr Belleville said: “Everything went really well. There was good crowds, and everybody seemed to have a good time. The flower parade was well attended, and the sports attracted one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen for a long time.”