Festival Chairman Rob Moffat leads the guest speaker Deborah Casswell into the Abbey.

Melrose shows the real power of community

If there’s one thing that sums up the Melrose Festival, it’s the power of community, and what that means to those living in it.

And that was highlighted in last Thursday's ceremony in the grounds of the historic Melrose Abbey, where Douglas Crawford was officially installed as Melrosian and Madeline Rausse was crowned as queen, before they were paraded through the streets of the town to great cheers.

The sheer number of former Melrosians and Queens in attendance showed the long-lasting importance of these roles to the people who hold them, with ribbons and medals being awarded to those who were celebrating their silver, gold and platinum anniversaries, not only for this year, but also in the past two years when the pandemic did not allow a full celebration. However, for those sitting under the early evening sun, it was well worth the wait.

In fact, the speaker giving the oration was herself a former Queen.

Deborah Casswell, who wore the crown in 1994 as Deborah Lyal, joined a select number of women who have performed the oration (preceded by Patricia Maxwell Scott in 1990 and Hawick Provost Myra Turnbull in 1996), while her husband Sam proudly became the first man ever to crown the queen.

Deborah said that she had “milked” the fact that she was once crowned queen so often, that some of her friends in the US actually thought she was a real royal.

Deborah also told of the power of the small community which she has returned to after living in London, having worked as a creative director for Apple before becoming an executive creative director for Nexus Studios. She told a tale of arriving in New York after university, only to be told the job she travelled over for was gone. However, a phone call from a family friend in Gattonside to one of her contacts meant she had another interview to look forward to after all.

And her words of advice for Madeline? “Milk it!”

Madeline herself was the perfect queen, having earned her stint in a series of tests at Melrose Primary School.

Speaking to The Southern this week, Madeline enthused: “It was really fun!

“I was nervous a bit at the start, but the sun was out and it was just brilliant.

"I thought the crowning would be my favourite part, but I think the tea party in the marquee was just as special.”

Her court – attendants Sophie Middleton and Orla McCarthy; Courtier (Proclamation) Seb Darlow; Courtier (Crown and Sceptre) Jamie Gillespie; Heralds Finlay Mitchell and Euan Williams; and trainbearers Anouk Richard and Isla Prophet – also performed their duties in true Melrose style.

Their schoolmates also played their part, alongside pupils from St Mary’s, by leading the crowd in the town’s hymn, Psalm 121.

There was also a large support from the community in the week's other events, such as the fancy dress and disco, the community bike ride (led by this year’s lead cyclists who received their sashes before the ride, which was followed by a family barbecue) , the festival ball (which saw 440 people take part) and the tour of ceremonies, sports and the festival dinner.

Page 1 of 3