Musicians mark would-be appointment nights in Galashiels and Selkirk

Cheers should have rung out across Galashiels and Selkirk on Friday night for the appointment of the towns’ Braw Lad and Lass and Standard Bearer respectively.

Ryan Borthwick with his parents Jill and Ian Borthwick.
Ryan Borthwick with his parents Jill and Ian Borthwick.

But with the coronavirus outbreak forcing the cancellation of all 10 of the central Borders’ common ridings and festivals this year, those town centres remained empty and silent instead.

Silent, that is, apart from the sounds of lone musicians playing their instruments from their doorways in an attempt to keepup some form of tradition in these strange times.

Just as they would ordinarily do on the final Friday evening in April, Galashiels Instrumental Band members played two verses of Braw Braw Lads at 8pm. But instead of doing so as a band from the Burgh Chambers, they donned their uniforms to play individually or in small family groups from their front gardens across each of the different wards.

Individual videos were shared to raise spirits on Friday night via social media before being pulled together to create a full band version.

A Braw Lads’ Gathering spokesman said: “On what should have been declaration night, we would like to send good wishes to the people of Galashiels and we hope you are all safe and well.

“Throughout the year we will continue to look back on past gatherings and in particular those celebrating anniversaries. We can all look forward to many more gatherings to come.”

Similarly in Selkirk, young Ryan Borthwick, a member of the town’s instrumental band, played Up wi’ the Souters on his cornet at 7pm on what should have been the Standard Bearer’s appointment night.

The performance from Ryan, grandson of Selkirk provost Keith Miller, was enjoyed by neighbours before a video was shared on Facebook to the rest of the town.

A common riding committee member also took time to pay tribute to those missing out on special anniversaries through the cancellation of the 2020 event.

They wrote: “Tonight is a very strange night for Souters both in Selkirk and around the world. With no appointment night and our beloved common riding cancelled this year it is important we remember those celebrating their anniversaries as royal burgh standard bearer.

“Congratulations to Robert Brunton who tonight reaches the diamond jubilee of his appointment as Royal Burgh Standard Bearer, Falconer Grieve reaches his golden jubilee and Duncan Lawson reaches his silver jubilee. “Hopefully it won’t be to long until you are allowed to celebrate your respective anniversaries. Stay safe and healthy...til the Roses bloom again.”