A huge cheer burst out from hundreds of Souters in Selkirk’s Market Place on Friday as stonemason Kieran Riddell emerged from the town hall, carried on a chair in time-honoured style.
The delight on the face of the 26-year-old was indicative of just how much being 2017’s Royal Burgh Standard Bearer means to him as representing his town is something he has been dreaming of all his life.
To tunes provided by Selkirk’s silver and flute bands, he was carried around streets lined with well-wishers to the Victoria Halls for this year’s appointment night concert.
There, he spoke of how honoured he was to be his town’s main man and praised all those who had helped him get there, singling out one man who he said signified what Selkirk Common Riding means to people.
He said: “Last year, my former primary school teacher, a man who must have taught hundreds of children, came up to me after almost 20 years and said ‘you will be my first standard bearer’.
“The emotion in his voice and the tears in his eyes showed how much this meant to him, a man not even from Selkirk but still proud of the Borders’ heritage.
“Being Royal Burgh Standard Bearer has been a dream of mine since I was a very young boy, and it is overwhelming to finally get the opportunity.”
He thanked all the people who has helped or encouraged him, saying: “Sometimes it is the smallest of things that can make the difference.”
Kieran congratulated last year’s standard bearer Rory Monks “on the way he most spectacularly carried out his duties, and did himself and his town proud”.
Kieran is a partner in his family’s business, Thomas Riddell Builders.
His dad Keith was royal burgh standard bearer in 1981, and his brother Ruairaidh was Selkirk Incorporation of Hammermen’s standard bearer in 2008.
And this will not be the first time that Kieran has cast a flag as he was the hammermen’s standard bearer in 2013.
His hobbies include horse-riding and travelling – he was a keen member of the Borders Exploration Group’s journey to Malawi in 2014.
He has ridden the marches no fewer than 11 times and acted as an attendant to past standard bearers thrice – for Alistair Craig in 2007, Guy Blair in 2008 and Rory in 2016.
His attendants are Peter Forrest, 25, and 18-year-olds Sam Coltherd, Robbie Reilly and Thomas Wilmott.
At the concert, Selkirk Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association chairman Douglas Gunn, welcomed Kieran’s appointment.
He said: “With the rousing reception he received coming out of the town hall, I’m sure that this appointment is a very popular one indeed, and I’m sure Kieran will be a very good ambassador for the royal burgh.
“It’s good to see that Kieran had better weather for his night than his dad did in 1981, when the snow-ploughs and gritters were out in force.”
This year’s silver anniversary standard bearer, ex-provost David Anderson, carrier of the burgh flag in 1992, was special guest at the concert.
The two bands played, and songs such as Up Wi’ the Souters o’ Selkirk and Hail Smiling Morn were sung by the gathered Souters, led by Ian Wilson.
More photos – pages 24 & 25