For Standard Bearer-Elect David Forrest and his Lass Shannon Knox it was a week they will remember for the rest of their lives.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” said David, trying to put the experience into words. “It all went better than I could have ever planned. It is something I’ve always dreamed of and as the week went on I felt more pride by the day.”
The 25-year-old, an operative at Innerleithen-based Glendinning Groundworks, was full of praise for his principals, the organising committee and Innerleithen’s residents for all their support.
“It was nerve-racking at times. But thankfully most of it came naturally in the end,” he reflected. “The best moment was actually being asked to be Standard Bearer.
“The Cleikum Ceremonies night was obviously a highlight too. I was very, very nervous going on stage, but it felt natural when I was up there and it all went well.
“Games day on Saturday was fantastic, too. The whole week was absolutely brilliant and I can’t thank everyone enough – my principals, the committee, the whole town.
“The week was well supported. It is important to keep the young ones involved and maintain the tradition.”
The week got under way when around 80 guests gathered for the senior citizens’ social, at which musical entertainment was provided the by St Ronan’s Future Band and the young members of Innerleithen Pipe Band.
St Ronan’s Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association held the annual dinner-dance on the Friday at the Vale Social Club.
The five-aside football tournament the next day was won by Sparka Moscow from Biggar. The ladies’ winners were Sarah Glendinning’s ‘Hammer’s Heroes’. Organiser Steven Notman said: “We had an excellent turnout of 20 teams. It was good to see lots of locals involved.”
A record 400 people attended the Standard Bearer’s Ball on Saturday, held in a specially erected marquee at St Ronan’s Community School .
The Kirkin’ of Games principals took place on Sunday at Church of Scotland. Ally Norman became the 117th Dux Boy and representative of St Ronan to raise the community flag on Sunday.
Following the Kirkin’ Service, 2014 St Ronan Alex Paterson raised the town flag.
The parade then returned to Hall Street. The principals then made their customary visit to St Ronan’s House where they entertained the residents with renditions of local songs.
The Peebles team headed by George Blair came out as the winners of Monday’s Games Week Car Treasure Hunt, winning the Cissy Barnett Trophy and £100 cash. Thirty cars entered the hunt.
Tuesday’s Children’s Sports and Treat were held in Victoria Park. The competition was keen with Craig Angus emerging as boys’ champion and Emma Currie taking the honours as girls’ champion. The Olympic Legacy Cup, for the winner of the obstacle race for boys and girls of primaries 6 and 7, was awarded to Ethan Huxley.
The Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association held its annual reception at St Ronan’s Wells on Thursday. Association chairman Paul Graham welcomed over 40 Ex-Standard Bearers with their partners.
He also welcomed silver jubilee Standard Bearer and Lass Ally Roberston and Sarah Lindsay as well as Golden Jubilee Standard Bearer and Lass Franik and Norma Pajak.
Ex-Standard Bearer Pajak was presented with his 50 Year Medal. Mr Graham then presented a donation of £750 to Games Week committee chairman Keith Belleville.
Innerleithen’s Cleikum Ceremonies were enacted before a capacity crowd in the Memorial Hall on Friday.
Narrator Stewart Wilson, standing in for Douglas Patterson who had lost his voice, recalled the legend of St Ronan.
President of St Ronan’s Games Keith Belleville then installed Dux Boy of the school, Ally Norman as Patron Saint.
The Dux Girl of the year, Ruby Finn, was then installed by the wife of this year’s Principal Guest, Mrs Ethne Cumming. Following this the Lady Busser, Ellen Frost, bussed the crozier and staves, ably assisted by the Dux Girl.
The Principal Guest, Dr Robert Cumming, gave an excellent address recalling his 34 years as the local GP in the town, before presenting the Duxes with their medals.
To the refrain of “Raise High the Banner,” outgoing Standard Bearer, Robbie Scott entered the hall, holding aloft the Banner for the last time.
Mr Belleville then called on the Standard Bearer for 2015 David Forrest and went on to install him. The Banner was bussed by David’s Lass Shannon Knox, who was presented with a Cleikum brooch.
On leaving the hall, the mood changed somewhat in the Service “For the Fallen”. The monks paid their respects at the War Memorial, set in the unique replica of Leithen Valley, before the Standard Bearer laid the wreath.
St Ronan’s Silver Band led the Flower Parade round the old part of Innerleithen. There were over 400 flower-bearing children again this year. John Cockburn, himself clad in a black cloak and hood, carried the fiery red carved head of the De’il mounted on the top of a stout pole draped in red cloth.
The procession which opened the 188th Anniversary of St Ronan’s Border Games, took the form of a massed bands display after the “Race Roond the Toon.” Large crowds lined the High Street to witness this spectacle.
Following the monsoon conditions of last year’s Beating Retreat, the faithful were rewarded this year with dry weather for this year’s performance by both of Innerleithen’s bands. Huge crowds gathered on both sides of the street to support their bands and enjoy the music.
The retreat is organised by the locals as a way of saying, “thank-you” to the people of Innerleithen for their support throughout the year.The final act of Games Week 2015 took place with the Burning of the De’il and Fireworks Display at the top of Curly Hill.
There was cheering and applause from the crowds gathered on the hillside as the sequence came to an exciting climax.