It’s a Hail Shinin’ Morn for Souters

Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Craig Monks at the Three Brethren this morning. Photograph: Grant Kinghorn.
Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Craig Monks at the Three Brethren this morning. Photograph: Grant Kinghorn.

Dawn rose above the Royal Burgh this Common Riding morning, with Standard Bearer Craig Monks being woken at 4am by the Selkirk flute band.

Despite the early start, the 28-year-old bore a smile throughout the morning, and bore the Burgh flag with pride as he rode the marches, along with more than 230 followers.

After he handed the flag back, unsullied and untarnished, to honorary provost of the Selkirk Common Riding Trust, Keith Miller, am ecstatic Craig told The Southern: “That was absolutely amazing.

“You think you can dream big, but that was bigger than anything.

“There are no words to describe that feeling you get coming in at the Toll with the flag, or up on the platform, casting.

“You just can’t beat a feeling like that ... unless one day if I have children and they, too, become Standard Bearer.”

And Mr Millar was fullof praise for his standard bearer.

Serving in his first year as provost, he said: “I really enjoyed it, even though I was a bit nervous.

“Craig was excellent as Standard Bearer. Right through the six or seven weeks since appointment night, he had done a great job, and has never put a foot wrong.”

The sky was a bit overcast to begin proceedings and it was a little cool, but that was probably good news for the horses.

Provost Millar charged Craig with checking the boundaries at the balcony of the Victoria Halls, much in the style of Norman Collier as the PA system was a bit crackly.

And as the mounted cavalcade wound its way down the Green and crossed the Ettrick, the sun edged out from behind the clouds and it was pleasantly warm for the ride up to the Three Brethren and back to town.

Craig’s smile as he galloped up the Toll to the cheers of his fellow Souters told just how much he treasured this moment.

And all the hours of practising the cast bore fruit with a perfectly-timed performance.

All the other standard bearers from the various trades and associations also cast their flags superbly and a Justin Gilchrist dipped the flag of the Ex-Soldiers Association at the end of the ceremony, the town dropped into silence for the two minutes.

As the Silver Band played the Liltin’ a few drops of rain fell and by the time the crowd had finished singing along to the national anthem, it was pouring ... marking the end of one of the best-timed festivals in recent years.

Celebrations continue this afternoon at Gala Rig with the racing, and tomorrow at the sports and gymkhana at Philiphaugh.

Read next week’s Southern Reporter for the full story from this remarkable day, with a picture special.

Also, check out our website through the week for video and more photos.