Selkirk rejoiced in a new Provost this week, as David Anderson assumed the gold chains from Les Millar, who retired after three years.
Forty-eight-year-old David of Glebe Terrace, who cast the flag as Royal Burgh Standard Bearer in 1992, said it was a great privilege and honour to be given the role of Provost. He added: “The Common Riding is close to Souters’ hearts, and if I do anything wrong, they’ll let me know.”
The former Knowepark and Selkirk High School pupil works as a financial advisor, in the High Street office formerly occupied by his barber father Elliot Anderson - himself the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer in 1949.
David, husband to Sam and father to Chloe (16) and Callum (11), is surely ready for the role, having served as the Chairman of the Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association, their representative on the 11-strong Common Riding Trust, and most recently as the Senior Baillie working closely with now Ex-Provost Millar.
The new Provost told The Wee Paper: “Les has done a super job over the last three years in both chairing the Trust, and as an after dinner speaker. He’s a very witty speaker, and he will be a hard act to follow. If I can do half as good a job as him, I’ll be happy.”
Looking to the challenges ahead, he added: “There will be pressures, both financial, and legislative. Our council grant has remained stationary for eight years, and we’re very fortunate that the people of Selkirk contribute to the public appeal.
“There is always new legislation on the horizon - we’ll have to start putting together an event plan with Scottish Borders Council – and this year will be the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, with one-off events extra to the normal year.”
Asked about his ambitions, he told us: “If I get to the end and it’s doing as well as when I came in, I’ll be pleased.”
Retiring Provost Les, the 1986 Hammermen Standard Bearer and later the guild’s Deacon and representative on the Common Riding Trust, said his main focus throughout was making sure the festival was as safe as possible, and that everybody had a good time.
He revealed: “The most time consuming thing is the number of speeches. I think there are 14 in the run-up to the Common Riding. I tried to make each one different, because you’re talking to the same people, but come the end of three years, you’re running out of things to say.”
Planning his more relaxed summers, he said: “My golf handicap went up when I became Provost, so I’ll get that down. But I’ll also be there to support Davie.”
Les, 50, and his wife Joy also plan to visit their 24-year-old son Andrew, who works as a plumber in New Zealand. For the rest of the year you can still catch him, fixing cars with his younger son Ross, 23, at his Heatherlie Terrace garage.
Summing up the last three years, he told us: “The whole thing has been a real honour. To have played my part in the town’s history, it’s quite humbling to be honest.”