Jethart Callant’s Festival celebrates its 70th year this summer, and the young man chosen to lead its festivities is Brodie Irvine.
The 21-year-old electrician was announced to huge cheers last Friday evening as one of the Borders’ best kept secrets was finally outed by the town’s honorary provost, Hugh Wight.
And for Brodie, the first in his family to be named Jethart Callant, the last five months have been long ones as he struggled not to let the cat out of the bag.
“I’ve been looking forward to the night since January when I found out,” Brodie said. “It was definitely a great feeling to get the secret out. It’s one of the best kept in the Borders, but it’s a hard one to keep to yourself.”
It was a relief too for his parents – Jake, a property manager in Edinburgh, and Lara, a library assistant in Hawick – as well as his elder sister Christie, a hairdresser in Jedburgh.
The Jed Legion Football Club player is the grandson of well-known Jedburgh runner Jock Steede and his wife Margaret, both of whom will be supporting him this summer alongside his other grandmother, Eileen Irvine.
“They are really and excited and proud,” Brodie said. “My mum and dad knew when I found out in January, but I only told my sister last week.”
Brodie, of Mansfield Park, studied at Howdenburn and Parkside primaries and Jedburgh Grammar School before completing his apprenticeship at Borders College in Galashiels with Kelso-based John Rae Electricals, his employer for the past five years.
He first followed the festival on horseback in 2003 behind callant Jamie McCraw at the age of seven and started riding lessons again in January, which, he says, will stand him in good stead for his first rideout following Hawick Cornet Ali George to Mosspaul next Saturday.
His girlfriend, Amy Headspeath, 18, of Galashiels, has been accompanying him during his lessons and plans to follow on horseback where possible between her duties as callant’s lass.
Looking ahead to the summer, Brodie added: “Festival day obviously will be a big one for me, but getting to lead all the other rideouts and seeing everyone out in support will be just as important.
“I’m looking forward to keeping up the Jethart traditions. I can’t wait to get started.”
On Friday, Brodie was carried out shoulder-high from the town hall by his right and left-hand men, Gary Hogg and Grant Raeburn, and they will support him this summer alongside herald Brian Marshall.
He was met with a rousing reception from crowds along the ramparts as, in a change from tradidion, the announcement was made from the town hall due to ongoing building works at the courthouse.
The celebrations that followed inside the town hall saw speeches from the provost, ex-callant Peter Johnston, festival convener Len Wyse, ex-callants’ association president Mike McGovern, Brodie and his father Jake.
Brodie was presented with his Lanton horseshoe and Balmoral by Lanton and Glendouglas community councils respectively.
This year’s festival week runs from Saturday to Friday, July 1 to 7, with the first rideout two weeks before to Morebattle on Sunday, June 18.