Selkirk’s Craig set to raise his standard high

Craig Monks is hoisted into the Victoria Halls on Friday evening by his attendants.
Craig Monks is hoisted into the Victoria Halls on Friday evening by his attendants.

Craig Monks began his journey towards becoming Selkirk Royal Burgh Standard Bearer back in 2008 when he was an attendant to Guy Blair at the age of 17.

However, he was probably destined to carry Selkirk’s flag from birth, such is his family’s history.

Craig's attendants are, back, Conall Fairbairn and Andrew McColm and, front, Liam Cassidy and Adam Nichol.

Craig's attendants are, back, Conall Fairbairn and Andrew McColm and, front, Liam Cassidy and Adam Nichol.

The 28-year-old fencer’s grandfather Drysdale Monks was standard bearer in 1954, and his dad Keith followed in his footsteps by representing the royal burgh in 1984.

Craig’s brother Rory became the first of his generation to do the deed in 2016, and now it’s his turn.

Craig told us: “It’s been a long time coming, but I’m sure it will be worth the wait. Of course, a high point will be common riding morning and casting the flag, but to be honest, I’m just as excited about attending the kids’ singing club.

“My partner Tina is just as excited as me. She’s already bought her dresses for the ball, and with Melrose’s appointment night coming up this Friday, it will be a great chance to meet all the other representatives from the other towns. Friday night was brilliant, and it was great to see so many Souters out there supporting me.”

Talented young Souter Milly Coltherd led the singing in the hall.

Talented young Souter Milly Coltherd led the singing in the hall.

Keen horse-rider Craig was also attendant for three other standard bearers – James Cheyne in 2009, Michael Craig in 2011 and Peter Forrest last year.

Craig has lent his musical services to common ridings through the years as a player in the town’s flute band and silver band, and he plays for its rugby team as well.

The former Knowepark Primary and Selkirk High School pupil has been so deeply ingrained in his town’s festivities that the honour of carrying the burgh flag round the marches and casting it in the Market Place is just about the only thing he’s yet to do.

He was revealed, from the grand doors of the refurbished town hall, to great cheers from a large crowd on a chilly Friday evening and was carried on a chair, shoulder high, through the streets, before arriving at the Victoria Halls for the appointment night concert.

A large crowd joined the procession around the town.

A large crowd joined the procession around the town.

His attendants offer a mix of youth and experience.

Taking part in their first common riding are Andrew McColm, 19, and Conall Fairbairn, 17.

Liam Cassidy, 19, is on his second term of duty, while senior attendant Adam Nichol, 24, is serving his third term.

There, the packed hall delighted in singing of common riding songs, such as Hail Smilin’ Morn and Up Wi’ the Souters o’ Selkirk, led by Milly Coltherd.

Standard bearer Craig Monks with silver and golden jubilee men Craig Stanners, left, and Johnnie Thomson.

Standard bearer Craig Monks with silver and golden jubilee men Craig Stanners, left, and Johnnie Thomson.

Also taking part in the celebrations were silver and golden jubilee standard bearers Craig Stanners from 1994 and Johnnie Thomson from 1969.

Once introduced to the crowd by Selkirk Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association chairman Gary Guthrie, Craig gave an impassioned speech full of praise for Keith Miller, honorary provost of the common riding trust, as well as for Peter Forrest, the man whose shoes Craig is filling this year.

It was an auspicious night for Keith too – his first speech in front of the general public.

Afterwards, he told us: “I did enjoy it, but beforehand I was a wee bit nervous, but it all went very well, and I am sure that in Craig we have a standard bearer who will do very well indeed.”

The night was concluded with the usual appointment night dance, with tunes played by the band Skyline.

Despite the chill, the evening marked the start of the summer for the Souters o’ Selkirk, who will be praying for a smilin’ morn on June 14.