Kelso Laddie Sean Hook fulfilled a lifelong ambition last week, getting his hands on the town’s blue and white banner 18 years after he first followed it to Yetholm aged six.
The 24-year-old electrician has supported his counterparts across the Borders over the last eight weeks, and last week it was finally all eyes on Kelso as its civic week was celebrated.
Last Wednesday evening, spectators from across the Borders flocked to Kelso’s cobbled square to witness the ever-moving colour-bussing and installation ceremony.
Colour-bussers Ruby Ward, Katelyn Guthrie, Abigail Hinnigan and Hayley Galbraith decorated the town standard with those four famed words – freedom, honour, valour and wisdom – before Sean thrust it aloft with the cry ‘fear nocht!’
Afterwards, Sean told the hundreds of supporters there how proud he was to finally get his hands on the town flag and paid tribute to his bussers before taking a moment to reflect upon absent friends.
“You have done your families proud, and I am sure, like me, this night will stay with us for the rest of our lives”, he told the four girls.
“To my family, friends, and you, the people of Kelso, the kind words, gifts and support you have given has made this summer a very special one.
“At this very happy time in my life, there are, unfortunately, a few people who are not here to enjoy it with me, but I am sure they will be looking down on me enjoying this all just as much as I am.”
Medals were also presented to this year’s 25th and 50th anniversary celebrants, 1993 laddie Michael Ballantyne and Jim Hogarth, the 1968 laddie.
On Saturday, the sun shone for Sean as he led a 210-strong mounted cavalcade over the hills to Yetholm, where, watched by Rev Ian Clark, Sean laid a wreath before riding on to Kirk Yetholm.
There, he was welcomed by this year’s Bari Gadgi, Tom Grindell, and Bari Manushi, Natasha Gray, for the customary presentation of a jagger.
Sean told the crowds: “I first rode to Yetholm in 2000, aged six-and-a-half.
“I can’t remember much of that day, to be honest, but I know that this day is one I will always remember.
“Thanks to this rideout, the bond between Kelso and Yetholm strengthens year after year.”
Later that afternoon, having returned with his cavalcade safe in to Kelso, Sean was presented with his blue bonnet, for crossing the border earlier that morning, by Valerie Neil.
In a repeat of last year, the cups for youngest and oldest riders to complete the Yetholm ride, went again to Jamie Wilson, seven, and ex-Kelso laddie James Hinnigan.
Later in the evening, following the usual fun and laughter of the fancy-dress parade, the Kelso Laddie returned the burgh standard unsullied and untarnished to honorary provost Dean Weatherston.
Afterwards, Sean added: “It’s been unbelievable.
“I feel so honoured and privileged to have been given the chance to carry the burgh standard to Yetholm on Saturday, and the support was amazing.
“The Wednesday night at the colour-bussing was another highlight.
“I will never be able to describe the wave of emotion that hit me that night. It’s true what they say – ‘it’s better felt than telt’.”
Sean was aided this summer by right and left-hand men Craig Logan and Ian Whellans, his parents, Lynne and Keith, his sister Abbie and his lass, Leanne Woodruff.