JEDBURGH cheered as their new Callant Iain Chisholm was introduced to the town on Declaration Night on Friday evening, writes Sally Gillespie.
Iain, 22, a keen piper, said: “It’s every Jethart laddie’s dream to be Callant, I’m very excited.”
The rugby player of Priors Meadow, who worked on actor Sam Neill’s farm and vineyard in New Zealand for a year, said: “I was surprised to get the call but I’ve never looked back. Mind you it was the longest four months of my life [keeping it a secret]!”
Father Iain was there on Friday night to see his son declared Callant, but mum Jill had already changed dates on her pre-booked holiday to Mexico with six friends to celebrate her 50th birthday and she didn’t want to let the secret out of the bag by changing again to be able to attend the night.
“My family are extremely excited. My dad’s very proud. I’ve never seen him cry but I’m sure I saw him crying on Friday night, ” said Iain.
“Being Callant means everything, really, there’s not going to be a better feeling. Everybody I’ve spoken to said it’s even better than you imagine it’s going to be. I can’t wait to get out there: Mosspaul is a week on Saturday... When Jed comes I’ll be buzzing!
“To have such great support on Friday in such bad weather meant a lot to me.”
The Jethart man attended Parkside and Jedburgh Grammar Schools before going to the College of Piping in Glasgow to study traditional music for two years.
He took off for New Zealand for a year, playing rugby in central Otago and working on the Jurassic Park actor’s farm, mostly on the sheep and pig side of the business.
“We did see him, he would come and work for a month sometimes. He’d come out of the main building and help and bring down wine or beer at lunchtime – it was great!”
Currently labouring for Persimmon Homes, Iain, a previous national finalist in the Rotary Club’s Young Musician of the Year, pipes at weddings and other functions.
“I always followed the pipe band at the festival and I always wanted to play so my dad took me to learn and I just stuck at it and now here I am, it’s a passion.”
Another passion is rugby. As stand-off, he was one of the Jed team who took last week’s King of the Sevens title and in the 15s he plays in the back row.
Iain senior is a project manager in Ghana, currently working on an airport runway, while mum Jill is an administrative clerk at Borders General Hospital.
Brother Martin, 18, is studying sports development at Telford College in Edinburgh while his step-sister Clare, 25, is a fitness manager with Edinburgh Leisure.
Grandparents Jimmy and Wilma Crockett in Ancrum are looking forward to watching their young relative lead the cavalcade to the village in the run-up to Festival Day in July.
Asked what he expected might be a festival highlight, Iain said: “The emotion of Festival Day. I’ll have so many things on my mind! Also riding to Ancrum because my family is from Ancrum – that will be an important day for me too. And Redeswire because it’s one of our most important rides and because of the history attached to it... I can’t wait!”