Virtual Whipman week celebrations bring West Linton villagers together despite lockdown

West Linton’s principals have been swapping the horseback for the bike saddle and online screens this week as they lead the village’s alternative Whipman week.

With the Whipman Play Society’s usual nine-day event cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, villagers are celebrating online instead, under the leadership of 2019 Whipman and lass Guy and Delia Thorley and principals elect Gregor Brown and Lucy Martin.

The traditional burgundy and gold bunting was hung and last Friday’s would-be installation night, streamed online, kicked off proceedings with performances by Torcull Kennedy and members of Linton Singers and an online fancy-dress karaoke.

Saturday’s traditional Whipman rideout was replaced with a fording of the Lyne on foot with principals carrying the flag, a visit to the war memorial to mark the 76th anniversary of the DDay landings, and the riding of the bounds by principals elect Gregor and Lucy on push bike.

“It was an unusual Whipman ride out day, but none the less a memorable one,” Lucy said.

The following day’s tradition kirking ceremony was replaced with an online service of reflection by Rev Stewart McPherson.

Whipman president Alan Stewart said “The online service that Stewart kindly put together for us is amazing and has been loved by so many in the community. At a time when we have to distance ourselves from those who we are usually close to, Stewart has reminded us all of what community spirit really means and how special Whipman and our community is to all of us.”

The dog show, usually held the same day, has moved online with entrants uploading videos to Facebook and awaiting results with flower girl Eve Louden acting as judge alongside the Whipman and lass.

This year’s presenting lady Nancy Porteous, meanwhile is helping the lass elect with the best dressed house and shop front competition, while an online parent and child dance-off, celebrity look-alike and painted stones competition runs online too.

Friday night will see an online quiz night before an online message from the Whipman president concludes events on Saturday.

Whipman week chairman Hamish Dykes said: “Virtual Whipman week has given us all an unexpected opportunity to reflect.

“By taking time to share photos and memories, we’re even more aware of what the village and Whipman week means to us and what’s special about our community.

“The powers of social media during these strange times have also demonstrated the tremendous bonds that are created between the many towns and villages because of their support for each others’ festivals.”

While this year has been a different one, and Guy will have to wait another year before handing over the flag to Gregor, both see it as having been a positive experience.

Gregor said: “Virtual Whipman week has been a week to remember thanks to the hard work of the Whipman Play Society for putting together many exciting virtual competitions and events. Everyone from the village and parishes have shown great enthusiasm towards a very different version of Whipman week, but an equally memorable one”.