Divine intervention for Braw Lads' Gathering

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With torrential rain overnight on Friday, supporters of the Braw Lads’ Gathering were looking for some help from above ahead of Galashiels’ big day.

And it seems to have worked, with the powers that be deciding to allow the perfect weather window to allow the celebrations to take place.

Outgoing Gathering president Bill White told us: “I was up at half-three this morning, and I thought, yeah, I’ll need to pray to the lord, and he seems to have got it done.

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"I couldn’t have asked for a better Braw Lad and Braw Lass, they have been great ambassadors to the town and they did brilliantly today.”

The traditional gallop up Scott Street.The traditional gallop up Scott Street.
The traditional gallop up Scott Street.

And for Braw Lad John Turnbull and Braw Lass Abbie Hood, it was a day that surpassed their expectations, even though it seemed for them to go by in a blur.

A few minutes after he handed back the Burgh Flag after parading it round the town’s boundaries, a tearful John said: “I can barely put my feelings into words, after the ride and the dipping of the flag.

"Abbie mixed the roses perfectly in that ceremony, and to see how much it all means to the people of the town, it’s amazing.

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"After waiting two years to perform the duties of Braw Lad and Lass, it was just brilliant.”

Braw Lad John Turnbull dips the Burgh Flag at the War Memorial.Braw Lad John Turnbull dips the Burgh Flag at the War Memorial.
Braw Lad John Turnbull dips the Burgh Flag at the War Memorial.

And Abbie, who had been dreaming of being Braw Lass since she was wee, and watching her brother Mark as Braw Lad in 2016, it was just as emotional.

She said: “Everybody’s been so supportive, we couldn’t have asked for better community support.

"It all lived up to our expectations and more.”

John added: "When we walked into Old Gala House and saw our names on the board, I said to Robbie, Nicola, Greig and Amy [attendants and former Braw Lads and Lasses] I don’t think people understand what it means to be Braw Lad and Lass unless they’ve done it.”

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All smiles as John and Abbie ford the Tweed at Galafoot.All smiles as John and Abbie ford the Tweed at Galafoot.
All smiles as John and Abbie ford the Tweed at Galafoot.

John also had a tip for anyone thinking about following in his bootsteps.

He said: “Yeah, you need to go for it. and if you need any help at all, any ex Braw Lad or Lass will give you the help you need, because it’s just amazing.”

Despite the overnight rain, the day started bright and dry at 8am, with John being handed the flag at the Burgh Chambers and then leading the mounted procession of around 200 riders down to Netherdale for the Soor Plooms ceremony, crossing the Tweed to visit Abbotsford, before fording the mighty river again ahead of the first gallop of the day up Gala Hill.

Then Abbie mixed the red and white roses to perfection at the Old Town Cross, before that visit to Old Gala House and the customary gallop up Scott Street, with the cheers of hundreds of supporters in their ears.

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The principals head to Old Gala House.The principals head to Old Gala House.
The principals head to Old Gala House.

And there was barely a dry eye at the War Memorial, as John, the only seated rider left, dipped the flag in memory of those in the town who fell in the two world wars.

An afternoon of music and entertainment followed in Bank Street Gardens, a recent but popular addition to the day.

Mr White said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. This is my final year as president and I have had six brilliant principals … an excellent Braw Lad and Lass, who have performed their duties in a manner way above what anyone could expect.”

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