THE Army is on the move ... or at least some former top brass are dressed up as reivers and riding through the Borders to help soldiers and their families. And they’ve raised more than £90,000 already.
Organised and led by Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, riders from around the country left Otterburn for Dunbar on Sunday to raise money for ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity of which Sir Evelyn is chief executive.
Sir Evelyn had hoped to raise £60,000, but already the total stands at over £91,000.
The horsemen and women are visiting six historic battles sites in the region and riding in memory of high-profile military historian, Professor Richard Holmes, who had hoped to take part, but died earlier this year from cancer.
Fundraising Selkirk horsewoman, Patience Anderson of Ravensheugh, said: “We have been blessed with this gorgeous weather. It’s made a huge difference and we have covered the ground.”
In the saddle for about nine hours on Sunday, the horseback fundraisers covered about 25 miles from the 1388 Otterburn battlefield via the ancient Clennel Street to friends at Pawston, near Yetholm.
On Monday the intrepid modern day reivers rode on to Flodden (1513) where they were met by Lord Joicey, from Ford and Etal Estates, and Alasdair Hutton, convener of Scottish Borders Council, and another 50 or so supporters.
Around a dozen riders accompanied the fundraisers on their onward journey to Coldstream (1018) in the afternoon where they were met by Coldstreamer Steven Bell, representatives from the Royal British Legion, Ex-Coldstream Association and the town’s 1513 Club, and, with standards flying, led through the town to a reception at the Tweed Green.
Riding on, the fundraisers stopped for the night at Leitholm, having covered about 18 miles.
On Tuesday they made their way to Kelso where they were received by Provost Fiona Scott before lunch and fording the River Tweed in front of Floors Castle and on to spend the night at Mounthooly, near Jedburgh. Yesterday, the horseback party were heading for Ancrum Moor (1545) and on to Selkirk, where they expected to gallop across the Philiphaugh (1645) battlefield in the early evening.
Mrs Anderson said: “We’re weary, but fine, and the horses are marvellous.”
Others riding include Major General Arthur Denaro, an equerry to the Prince of Wales; and Colonel, The Queen’s Royal Hussars, Michael Cunningham; and the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, James Arkell, who has an army background.
Today the riders make for Thirlestane Castle where there will be a reception, beating retreat and talk on humour in uniform by top after-dinner speaker Professor David Purdie, who writes The Major column in Golf International magazine.
They expect to ride to Haddington on Friday and on to Dunbar (1296, 1650) on Saturday where will be a reel and ceilidh party.
Donations can be made to riders along the way or by going to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/reiversride and anyone interested in attending the events or riding with the group should ring Major Roy Robertson on 07960 839175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.