Rain fails to scare town that fears nocht

Kelso Civic Week Installation and bussing of Standard. Kelso Laddie Callum Vickers.
Kelso Civic Week Installation and bussing of Standard. Kelso Laddie Callum Vickers.

A SEA of umbrellas greeted platform principals at the formal installation of the Kelso Laddie on Wednesday last week.

But the relentless evening rain could not dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm, singing and applause at the moving ceremony.

Kelso Civic Week Installation and bussing of Standard. Kelso Laddie Callum Vickers.

Kelso Civic Week Installation and bussing of Standard. Kelso Laddie Callum Vickers.

Principals from all over the Borders attended the event when this year’s Kelso Laddie, Callum Vickers, was entrusted with the burgh flag.

Provost Fiona Scott, the Kelso Laddies Association honorary president, extended a special welcome to anyone who had returned to the town specifically for the 75th anniversary of Kelso Civic Week this year.

She recalled Provost John Scott who, with others, started the annual celebrations and “who did so much to ensure the town of Kelso became prominent”.

“He founded a festival that has gone from strength to strength,” she said, adding that it was the commitment of the Kelso Laddies, their families and others involved since that has sustained it.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the civic week experience is that the Laddies and others make friends for life, she told Wednesday evening’s crowds: “Let’s hope this will ‘aye be’ what happens in civic 

She sashed Right Hand Man Phil Hume and Left Hand Man Murray Playfair to cheers before presenting Callum with the Kelso standard and urging him “dae richt, fear nocht”.

The young principal descended the platform and walked slowly to the centre of the Square to dip the flag to the north, south, east and west where Lady Bussers Lucy Murray, Betheny Millar, Aimee Martin and Lauren Mackay tied on it ribbons bearing the words freedom, honour, valour and wisdom.

The flag bussed, Callum held it aloft, stepped forward and shouted out: “Fear nocht.”

He returned to the platform where he told the crowds it was a great honour to receive the flag and said: “I will endeavour to maintain the same high standards set by my predecessors and return the flag unsullied and untarnished.”

Provost Scott presented Golden Jubilee Ex-Laddie Angus Balden with a bar to mark his 50th anniversary as the Kelso Laddie before Callum, his henchmen and the Jethart Callant Iain Chisholm danced the Laddies’ Reel with the lady bussers.

Silver Jubilee Laddie Jim Henderson, celebrating 25 years since he was Kelso Laddie, received a silver medal from Kelso Laddies Association chairman Neil Hastie’s wife, Gillian.

This year, the Ex-Kelso Laddies Club decided their lifetime achievement award would go to Bill Watt who celebrates his 90th birthday this week.

The former electrical engineer was a cadet scout leader for 40 years and taught ice skating to children at the town’s Border Ice Rink for 50 years, three of whom went on to skate professionally.

Mr Watt told the crowds: “It is such an honour for me to stand here and receive this much coveted award. It’s very gratifying to know that what I did is appreciated.”

This year’s reception following the Installation took place at Springwood Hall instead of the Tait Hall as more guests were invited to celebrate the week’s 75th birthday.

Kelso Pipe Band led the procession of the Kelso Laddie and his henchmen, the Ex-Kelso Laddies and Lady Bussers to the guest reception at the hall in Springwood Park.