Town in safe hands with Ben and Liva

Pupils from Melrose Primary School celebrate the appointment of Liva McGillivray as the town's Festival Queen for 2019.
Pupils from Melrose Primary School celebrate the appointment of Liva McGillivray as the town's Festival Queen for 2019.

An unseasonal chill prevailed in Melrose’s Market Square last Friday evening, forcing a switch of venue for the appointment of the Festival Queen.

The evening, held in the Ormiston Institute, marked the first time Melrosian Ben Magowan was introduced to the public, having first been announced at the town’s Burns Night earlier this year.

Melrose Festival Queen for 2019, Liva McGillivray, front row centre, and her court, are all smiles.

Melrose Festival Queen for 2019, Liva McGillivray, front row centre, and her court, are all smiles.

But the evening belonged to Liva McGillivray, who aced her school’s maths, English and arts exams to earn her the crown this year.

For Liva, it was an exciting, if daunting occasion.

She said: “I’m really proud and excited, but I’m also a little bit nervous.

“My friend was the queen last year and I saw her in the festival, and I thought ‘that looks cool.’

Melrosian for 2019, Ben Magowan, flanked by his right and left hand men, Harry Fletcher and Russell Mackay, who carried him three times round the Mercat Cross, as tradition dictates.

Melrosian for 2019, Ben Magowan, flanked by his right and left hand men, Harry Fletcher and Russell Mackay, who carried him three times round the Mercat Cross, as tradition dictates.

“And now I am going to have the chance to do it too.”

Superbly supported with music from the Jedforest Instrumental Band, the event began with last year’s Melrosian Harry Fletcher handing back his sash, and becoming Ben’s right hand man, and Russell Mackay taking on the duties of left hand man.

An emotional Harry said: “To be back speaking after a year of representing Melrose feels slightly surreal.

“Last year at this time I received many words of advice reiterating how quickly the summer would go by.

Melrosian for 2019, Ben Magowan, flanked by his right and left hand men, Harry Fletcher and Russell Mackay, who carried him three times round the Mercat Cross, as tradition dictates.

Melrosian for 2019, Ben Magowan, flanked by his right and left hand men, Harry Fletcher and Russell Mackay, who carried him three times round the Mercat Cross, as tradition dictates.

“And they were right. Time flies when you are having fun and the main reason I enjoyed being Melrosian so much was the immense support I received.

“To represent Melrose throughout the Borders has been a truly amazing experience, and one I shall forever look back on.”

Ben said he was most thankful for the support he received from the crowd.

He told us: “Melrose Festival will of course be the highlight, but I’ll also enjoy riding at the other Borders towns.

“I haven’t really ridden for years, but the lessons are going really well, and it was particularly special going out with Harry and Russell by my side a couple of weeks ago.”

Melrose Principals 2019

Melrosian: Ben Magowan; RHM Harry Fletcher; LHM Russell Mackay

Lead Cyclists: Holly Allfrey, Eva White, Kristofer Cockburn and Caitlin Smyth.

Train bearers: Georgia O’Donnell and Grace McGrath.

Heralds: Henry Lynch and Ben Cook.

Courtiers: Thomas Young and Matthew Westbury.

Queen’s Attendants: Ellie Darlow and Amelie Ireland.

Festival Queen 2019: Liva McGillivray.