Melrosian Elect, Douglas Crawford, lays the wreath at the war memorial.

Fun in the sun for kids as Melrose makes do

Borders towns are now in their second year of missing out on their festivals and common ridings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:13 pm

However, like Hawick and Selkirk, organisers in Melrose decided this year that didn’t mean some traditions couldn’t be carried out, and in some cases, new traditions made.

Douglas Hardie, former chairman and now vice-president of the Melrose Festival, who took these photos, said it was important to do something for the children of the town.

He said: “Melrose Festival has always been children-oriented … and I believe that youngsters have taken the brunt of the effects of Covid-19 so we had to try to do something to get a smile on their face … and I think we did manage to do that.”

Often, it’s the ceremonial aspects of the festivals that are most poignant, and when they are done in private, that sense of poignancy is only multiplied.

That was the case here, on the Sunday, as Melrosian-elect Douglas Crawford laid a wreath at the war memorial at the Parish Church in the town.

Then, on Monday, a “secret” cavalcade of six horses went out on a hack.

Mr Hardie said: “There was no rideout, of course, but six riders took it upon themselves to have a hack in the countryside, and decided to follow the route of the festival rideout, in a Covid-friendly way.

"We had to be very careful around Covid guidance.”

The kids’ sports day was another event which got a new twist.

Mr Hardie said: “The kids were getting nothing … so we decided to hold an day of activities outside on the Tuesday, and that worked really well. So much so, that they are now talking about it being a permanent fixture in the festival week.

"That included touch rugby, tennis and general fitness activities.

"Our festival chairman Rob Moffat really came into his element here, as he is a former PE teacher and rugby coach, so he had plenty of ideas up his sleeve, and we also had helpers from the rugby club.

"I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the successful, yet truncated, Festival Week.”

Other favourite activities included a tug of war and a ducking stool.

Another event put on for the kids was a fun rounders tournament, hosted by St Mary’s School on the Thursday, which went down “pretty well”.

There's hopes that it will all be back to normal next year.

Mr Hardie said: “We said this last year too, but all things being equal, we should be back to the normal, full programme for next year.

"Douglas Crawford will be given the opportunity to be Melrosian if he is available, because that’s two years on the trot he’s not been able to do it. It’s a real shame for him, as he’s a nice lad.”

The town's retailers also got into the spirit in a best-dressed window competition, judged by Festival Queen Lucy Whiting and her mum. In first place was Butterfly, with Tickety Boo in second and The Country Kitchen Deli third.

And kids took part in a competition to spot the odd object in shop windows, as well as a socially-distanced treasure hunt.

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