Melrose’s date with history

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The Melrose Festival begins this weekend, in its traditional third week in June, from Sunday June 14 until Saturday June 20.

Instituted in 1936 to commemorate the town‘s history, the Melrose Festival will be led this year by the Melrosian Donald Crawford, who was unanimously appointed at the Ex-Melrosians’ Burns supper at The Greenyards in January.

The 22-year-old comes from an old Melrose family, and he follows in the footsteps of his father, Michael, the 1984 Melrosian. After schooling at St Mary’s and then Merchiston, Donald is now studying finance at Northumbria University. He is a keen horseman, and has played for Melrose XV.

Last month Donald was formally introduced to the people of Melrose, when he was carried three times round the Mercat Cross by his Right Hand Man, the 2014 Melrosian Fraser Anderson, and the 2012 Melrosian Graeme Crawford – who was standing in for Donald’s Left Hand Man Sam Thomson, while he trains with the British Army. Beforehand, he received his black, yellow and white rosette from Elaine Marjoribanks, wife of the festival chairman James.

On the same day, Friday May 1, Melrose’s Festival Queen Robyn Mackay and her Court were appointed. Robyn will be crowned at Melrose Abbey on Thursday June 18. Her First and Second Attendants are Maddie Thomson and Charli McGeever; First and Second Courtiers Ben Sloan and Oliver Ewing; Heralds Luke Blackwood and Andrej Berlansky; and Train Bearers Ella Moore and Maisie White.

This year’s Diamond Jubilee Queen is Rosemary Simpson, who was crowned in Melrose Abbey in 1955. Others celebrating are Jubilee Celebrants Virginia Foley and John T Bunyan, and Silver Jubilee Celebrants Sarah Hirstwood and Brian Jones.

Melrose Festival begins on Sunday June 14 with a wreath laying ceremony at the War Memorial at 10.45am, followed by the Kirkin of the Melrosian in the Parish Church at 11am, and a five-a-side football match at Gibson Park at 1pm.On Monday June 15, the Melrosian’s Rideout gathers in the Primary School playground (not the triangle), before leaving the Greenyards at 6pm. The day’s concluding ceremonies take place in the Market Square at 9.30pm.

On Tuesday the Fancy Dress Parade assembles at 6.15pm in Gibson Park, with a disco afterwards. Then on Wednesday, the cycle ride leaves Gibson Park at 6.30pm, and arrives for a family BBQ at Annay Road at 8pm.

Thursday sees the Ceremonies start at 7pm, with the Installation of the Melrosian and Crowning of the Festival Queen in Melrose Abbey, or in Melrose Parish Church if wet. The next day, the Melrosian visits the BGH and schools from 10am to 3pm, followed by the Festival Ball at Annay Road Rugby Ground at 8pm.

The festival concludes on Saturday when the Tour of Ceremonies begins in the Market Square at 9am, with visits to Newstead, Gattonside, Abbotsford, Darnick Tower, and then Melrose Abbey at 12noon. The Sports Day starts in Gibson Park at 2.30pm, and Pipe Band music in the Market Square at 7pm, followed by the Melrose Festival Dinner in Melrose Rugby Club at 8pm.