Yetholm festival week is a triumph

Yetholm Festival. Stobstanes Ride (Wednesday evening)
Yetholm Festival. Stobstanes Ride (Wednesday evening)

YETHOLM celebrated with a successful festival week which finished on Saturday.

The weather held for most of the week and Saturday’s downpour didn’t dampen spirits as villagers switched the family day to the Youth Hall instead of the playing fields.

Community council chairman David Hutchinson said: “It was a good week, there were a variety of events and there was wonderful support from Kelso, Coldstream, and Duns. Berwick came to one or two things, too, and Galashiels to the rideout. It’s good to have the big towns’ support.”

Watchers counted 115 horses and riders taking part in Wednesday night’s Stob Stanes rideout when villager Stuart Smith gave the oration at the stones. Bari Manushi 50 years ago, Carol Butler welcomed riders home to the Kirk Yetholm Green, later talking about the history of where they rode, from Romans to St Cuthbert, Flodden and WW2.

“These old drove roads you have ridden along bear witness to the countless stocksmen and shepherds who drove their beasts over the border to market and whose descendants still manage their hefted flocks, now on quad bikes with collies on board.

“The military are a real presence and you have been within hearing distance of Otterburn Firing Range and the jets that scream above, a sobering reminder of a world that is embroiled in conflict.

“You are the 30th Bari Gadgi and Bari Manushi to undertake this Stob Stanes rideout and now you also have become part of the rich tapestry of these wonderful hills: tell your story to your grandchildren and enjoy the rest of your week.”

She presented Bari Gadgi Kenneth Kelly with a Yetholm Jagger and Bari Manushi Zoe Keddie with a goblet.

The youngest riders this year were seven-year-olds Hamish Stenhouse – last year’s winner – and the Bari Gadgi’s son Michael Kelly. Emma Stenhouse was judged the best turned out horse and rider in the children’s section, while Karen Young won the same cup for the adults category. And Mr Hutchinson thanked Kelso Pipe Band and the ride’s chief steward Dave Shepherd and assistant Douglas Gibson for their work.

The Bowmont Theatre and Village Choir concert in Wauchope Hall started the festivities on Thursday, June 7.

“They were superb and raised £400,” said Mr Hutchinson. “The Ladykillers” written by Mary Simmons’ son Daniel, included Bari Manushi Zoe Keddie in the cast and the Yetholm Colliery Band – also part of the evening – performed popular tunes.

Friday’s (June 8) ladies, darts was won by Bari Manushi Zoe Keddie. The boules at the Plough Hotel on Saturday (June 9) were won by Caroline and George Burnett and their daughter Lindsey while Fiona Zabrocki’s team won the pub quiz later that evening.

Sunday’s Kirkin’ of the Principals at Yetholm Parish Church went “extremely well” said Mr Hutchinson. And it was attended by principals from Duns, Kelso and Coldstream and was one of several occasions Yetholm piper Bill Glen played, leading the participants from the kirk to the Border Hotel afterwards.

Yetholm Sinfonia’s concert in the church that evening was “excellent” said Mr Hutchinson; Tess Brown and Paul Meins won the darts competition at the Plough Hotel while Liz Mabon took the dominoes title.

Monday’s (June 11) quoits proved as popular as ever; Angie Swan won the adult beetle drive while Maisy Zabrocki won the children’s section and Aaron Rowe won the men’s pool competition.

Tuesday’s whist drive “was excellent as usual” run by Ruby Cessford and Moira Keddie, said Mr Hutchinson.

Thursday’s village lunch was “very well attended” said Mr Hutchinson and everyone enjoyed the evening’s family bingo. Karaoke at the Border Hotel – enjoyed by all there – was Friday night’s entertainment while Saturday brought the duck and boat race, family day and festival dance.

Mr Hutchinson won the duck race from the 1,000 sold while Caitlin Butler had the first boat home; Jack Lee was judged to have the best designed boat and Keira Clelland to have the best dressed duck in a new competition this year.

“We asked people to dress up as a duck in memory of the late Jean Younger who ran the duck race for years,” said Mr Hutchinson.

Rain forced the family day to move to the youth hall, but Amy Dickson, Jonathon Dixon and Murray Freeland-Cook organised games for children on the Town Yetholm green when the weather allowed and the visit by Borders Clansmen proved popular.

“Somehow moving to the hall was better. Despite the rain it was almost a triumph, there was a lovely sense of village community,” said Mr Hutchinson.

Saturday night’s festival dance was a sell out with a buffet by Clare Edgar and music from Fahrenheit.

Throughout the week there was a photo exhibition of past images of Yetholm in the Plough Hotel.