SPORTS presenter Jill Douglas made history on Saturday when she gave the Redeswire speech.
Her father Henry delivered the rousing address a few years ago and the pair have become the first father and daughter duo to have undertaken the task.
More than 200 supporters, including principals, over 60 followers on horseback and others, assembled watched and cheered as this year’s Callant Ryan Miller galloped towards the stane and cried out “Jethart’s here!”, so commemorating the day in July 1575 when Jedburgh answered the call of the Scots troops fighting the English at Redeswire.
On a bright warm day, with the Borders countryside as the rolling backdrop, former Southern Reporter journalist Jill asked: “I wonder what journalists would have made of events here at Redeswire 436 years ago?
“We come here together every year, as our forefathers did all those years ago, because it is a recognised meeting place. It was here that the feuding and neighbouring families, gathered to discuss grievances, horse trade, debate and, at times, disagree on what was known as a Day of Truce.
“The headlines may have read: Redeswire Ruck Boils Over Border Crossing Chaos, or more likely a simple Jethart’s Here Call to Arms.
“I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live here in these hills when this area was known as the debateable lands, when conflict was commonplace. Day-to-day living, with the real threat of thieves and invaders taking all that you held precious.
“But I do believe that the spirit of the Borders folk stems from those days. We are a hardy lot, tenacious, unlikely to back down and in my mind, regularly and over the ages, punching above our weight.”
She said she was “no high achiever of any kind” but instead: “I am a spectator – I watch incredible things happen around the world and talk to the people involved and hopefully help you, as viewers or newspaper readers, learn more about genuinely incredible and inspiring people. My biggest talent is a deep-rooted curiosity and desire to learn more – to ask questions, to interpret situations and engage with people watching at home.”
It was a “dream job” she told the crowd, which had seen her travel the world.
“I wouldn’t like to say how many borders I’ve crossed over the years in pursuit of witnessing sporting excellence, but none have played a bigger role in my make-up and in my upbringing than the one we stand by today.”
She described growing up within sight of Redeswire, at Howahill, and how she and her family had supported many Borders Common Ridings and Festivals.
“It’s fantastic to see my niece following the family tradition: it’s this next generation who will carry on the tradition of Douglas’ riding up over the border to Redeswire. Because of course there was a Douglas here back in 1575, Douglas of Bonjedworth stood shoulder to shoulder with Sir George Carmichael when things kicked off, and over the centuries that so often was the case – Jamais Arrear is the family motto, Never Behind! And I am proud to stand here as a Douglas, following in the footsteps of my dad who himself gave this address a few years ago. And I understand we are the first father and daughter to deliver this annual address.
“As I said at the beginning, I am not a sports star or a business tycoon, I’m a reporter who’s had a bit of luck along the way, but anything I have achieved has been as a result of my upbringing here in the Borders and the education I received at the Grammar School. I am a product of my environment and I consider myself fortunate indeed to have been taught by some excellent teachers who were passionate about their subjects and taught me to never settle for mediocrity.”
She recalled the different influences of her teachers, one of whom was the BBC commentator and now one of Jill’s colleagues, Bill Johnstone. And she recalled Borders sporting heroes and watching Hawick play at Mansfield Park every weekend and her love of racing which started with visits to Kelso racecourse.
The weekend brought such sporting greats as the climax of Wimbledon and the start of the Tour de France, she said. But added: “There will be little to beat the sight of Callant Ryan Millar galloping up hill here to Redeswire with the stirring call of Jetharts Here!
“His father and grandfather were proud Callants and Ryan is proving he can more than live up to the family traditions. Long may all these traditions stand firm.
“I am thrilled for his family and wish him and the whole of Jethart all the best for the week ahead.
“And finally a special congratulations to everyone who will receive their Redeswire badge this evening, it’s a wonderful tradition, recognising not only your boldness to tackle one of the most challenging of all the Borders’ rides, but also your appreciation of taking part in such an historical and significant part of Borders life.”
z A 13-year-old girl was airlifted to the Borders General Hospital after falling from her horse during the ride. Four members of the Border Search and Rescue Unit helped her and, after consultation with the Scottish Ambulance Service, an air ambulance was dispatched from Glasgow.