The secret’s out for John and Abbie, Braw Lad and Lass for 2022

It’s been a fair old wait for the 2022 Braw Lad and Lass, but after being introduced to Galaleans last night, the secret is finally out of the bag.

In the hot saddles this year are Gala Rugby Club star John Turnbull, 22, and avid horse rider Abbie Hood, who’s 23.

At 8pm on Friday night, as entrenched in tradition, the town clock pealed the tune of “Braw Braw Lads” before the doors of the council chambers opened and Bill White, President of the Braw Lads Gathering, revealed the pair.

Both John and Abbie were chosen by the Braw Lads Executive Council in 2020 … then the pandemic hit.

Gathering president Bill White with Braw Lad John Turnbull, Braw Lass Abbie Hood and attendants. Photo: Jade Pringle.

And the pair have had to keep their amazing secret till now.

And for Abbie, whose brother Mark was Braw Lad in 2016, that’s probably been the hardest thing.

Educated at Glendinning Primary School and Galashiels Academy, the personal assistant with Scottish Borders Council told us: “Keeping the secret has been difficult, as it’s been my dream of mine since I was a young girl.

"We’ve just had to forget about it, but it’s here now, so we can enjoy it and there’s a great summer ahead.

"I’m most looking forward to Braw Lads week, and making new friends at the festivities throughout the Borders.

"It’ll be great!”

John, a smart meter engineer with Scottish Gas, is also looking forward to Braw Lads week.

He said: “This feels amazing, it's so great that now everyone knows and I can share it with them.

"I love the gathering, and to think I’ll be Braw Lad for it, and to be accompanied by Braw Lass Abbie, it’ll be great.”

John, who attended St Peter’s Primary School and the academy, is the first of his family to take up the reins.

The pair will be joined by their attendants. The Bearer of the Sod and the Bearer of the Red Roses are Ex Braw Lad and Lass, Robbie Lowrie and Nicola Laing, while the Bearer of the Stone and the Bearer of the White Roses are Ex Braw Lad Greg Kelly and Ex Braw Lass Amy Thomson.

And for President of the Braw Lads Gathering, Bill White, it was a welcome return to normal.

He said: “It's absolutely fantastic to be back up and running.

"It’s great to see so many people out tonight.

"I was a wee bit apprehensive about getting back into the swing of things, but it’s been well supported tonight, it’s a good night out.

"The last couple of years has been a bit boring, with nothing to do … it just seemed to drag on and on.

"Last year we thought it might go ahead, but it didn’t. This year, hopefully, it’s going to go ahead, which I think is wonderful.

“The Borders festivals just bring people together … and that is certainly worthwhile after what everyone has gone through because of Covid.”

Friday night’s celebrations included performances from the town’s brass and pipe bands.

The former led the crowd in traditional renditions of the songs “Braw Braw Lads” and Gala’s Braw Braw Lasses”, and the latter provided the reel in which John, Abbie and their attendants danced brilliantly alongside pupils from the town’s primary schools.

The principal party will take part in local rideouts and take part in other town’s festivities before their big week from Sunday, June 26 to Saturday, July 2.