A large crowd gathered outside Yetholm’s Plough Hotel on Friday night to hear the announcement of this year’s Bari Gadgi, Tom Grindell, and Bari Manushi, Natasha Gray.
The pair were greeted by friends and villagers before leading the walk along to Wauchope Hall, where they were officially installed and sashed by outgoing Yetholm Festival Week principals Joseph Mallen and Amberlie Allan.
Living in the village from the age of four, Tom attended Longridge Towers school in Berwick before heading south to study at Loughborough University, aged 18, for four years.
He now works as a management consultant and has lived in London for the past 18 months, splitting his time between there and Edinburgh.
Outside of work, he is a keen cricket player and still makes appearances for Kelso Cricket Club when he is home.
He will be supported this year by his dad Chris, an accountant at C&R Tyres in Kelso, his mum Liz, an accountant for Lothian Estates in Bonjedward, and his younger brother Ben, 22, a student in York.
He said: “When I was a kid, we used to go down in the summer and watch the festival, which was always good fun.
“I have had a lot of good friends from different sports clubs who have served as principals around the Borders and have been assured that it’s a great thing to do.”
For Tom, his appointment means a welcome return to the saddle, a hobby which fell by the wayside a few years ago.
“I rode up until I was about 10, but it took a break to take up cricket and rugby,” he said.
“I picked it up again in the last six months.
“My mum rode at Yetholm Festival a few years ago, and my family will all be following on foot this year.”
Equally as excited is Bari Manushi Natasha.
A keen rider, the 25-year-old, already serving as the festival committee’s secretary, said: “It’s something that I really enjoy. I have done a few local festivals and am involved with Kelso Civic Week as well. I’ve ridden Kelso’s Yetholm ride four times and Stob Stanes once before.
“They’re important. I think the whole Border common riding and festivals tradition is what makes the area special.”
Natasha moved to the village from Kelso aged five and attended Morebattle Primary School and Kelso High.
She now lives in Kelso, where she works at Douglas Home accountant’s, but says Yetholm will always be home and still serves as secretary of its community council.
Her mum Sandra Robson, who works in Lloyds pharmacy in Kelso, stepdad Paul, who farms at Venchen near Yetholm, and two younger stepsisters Chloe and Tamara live in the village.
“My mum will be riding at Stob Stanes this year,” Natasha said. “She has always been a keen rider, so she is really looking to it. It’ll be her first time following as an adult.”
Natasha’s partner, Adrian Gajczak, also promises to be a huge support during this year’s proceedings as he served as Kelso Laddie in 2008.
Reflecting on Friday evening’s reception, she added: “It didn’t really feel real until Friday because I have known about it for so long.
“You work so hard to keep it a secret, but on Friday it all suddenly felt very real.
“We had a great turnout of visiting principals and local politicians. The community really comes out and supports Yethom Festival. It’s a really good family event for people of all ages.”
Festival week runs from Friday, June 8, until Saturday, June 16, with the rideout to Stob Stanes taking place on the Wednesday of that week.