Jedburgh townsfolk raise over £2,000 for NHS Borders with virtual callant vote

Jethart Callant’s Festival committee has donated more than £2,000 to NHS Borders charity The Difference thanks to the election of a virtual callant for 2020.

Ex-Jethart Callants and Heralds supported the 2020 fundraiser.
Ex-Jethart Callants and Heralds supported the 2020 fundraiser.

Following the cancellation of this year’s July festival, made in March, organisers opted for a tongue-in-cheek vote for a virtaul callant to celebrate what should have been declaration night last Friday.

Last week two potential principals were announced each day through the festival’s Facebook page, with candidates sharing their plea for votes in a short online agenda.

Once the candidates, all keen supporters of the festival, had been announced townsfolk were invited to vote for their favourite online while making a donation to The Difference, the charity which supports NHS Borders.

And on Friday night, a 30-minute pre-recorded video featuring the town’s pipe and instrumental bands, as well as addresses from festival convener Rob MacDonald and Ex-Callants and Heralds Association chairman Grant Davidson, was watched by more than 7,000 people.

They paid tribute to the real callant who should have been announced to the town on Friday and whose identity will remain one of the Borders’ best-kept secrets now until next year, before announcing the winner of the online poll as Kenneth Cassie.

More than 1,500 votes were cast, bringing in donations of £1,397, and further donations of £250 a piece from the festival committee, Ex-Callants and Heralds Association and the Wudcutter’s Society, raising a total of £2,137 for the charity.

Mr MacDonald said; “The festival is a close part of the community it brings people together from all walks of life.

“It’s the one thing that unites us as a town and we all join in together and celebrate in the same way. That unity carries on to our surrounding towns and that rivalry a few months back on the rugby field is cast aside as the tows unite to celebrate each others’ traditions.

That link is broken this year, but that’s not forever and I urge each town to celebrate as best they can virtually.”

He congratuled this year’s ex-callants celebrating milestone annivesaries before telling viewers; “I’m hoping you have been enjoying our virtual declaration build up with 12 weel-kent faces making an appearance.

“Working with the 12 candidates over the last couple weeks has been a pleasure and we’ve enjoyed a good few laughs mostly at each others’ expense. We’ve went back for one year only to the way the callant was originally chosen - by the public - and added a small cost to raise money for the NHS local charities which totalled £2,137. Thank you to the 12 candidates for participating and Steven Somerville ofr his camera skills and witty pictures.

“A huge thank you also to the public who have supported this event financially, and the biggest thanks of all to the NHS and our key workers for keeping everyone cared for during this awful time.”