Young people in Melrose help counter the criticism that is levelled at the youth of today, through their strong sense of duty to their local community.
That was the message from Don Ledingham, this year’s guest orator at the Melrose Festival Installation and Crowning Ceremonies in Melrose Abbey on Thursday night.
The rain that threatened all evening passed over with only a few drops falling on the large crowd and guests that gathered to see Sam Thomson installed as the 2013 Melrosian and Zoe Palmer crowned as Festival Queen.
The son of a GP, Mr Ledingham is a former local PE teacher and is currently Executive Director of Services for people at East Lothian Council and Director of Education and Children’s Services at Midlothian Council.
However, from August he will take up a new post as Director of Innovation Leadership at Drummond International.
Mr Ledingham, took as his theme the song and poem, Here’s Tae Melrose, which had been written by the Rev Jack Drummond on the back of an envelope one evening while travelling to Melrose.
Mr Ledingham said the notion contained in the song’s lyrics of leaving and returning was a recurring feature.
“So many young people are educated in Melrose, leave and then come back and that shows a real sense of passion and connection to the community and that is a tremendously powerful thing.
“Melrose is a fantastic place to bring up children – children in Melrose are encouraged, respected and involved in this community.”
But Mr Ledingham said young people often came in for a rough ride from some quarters: “Something that upsets me as a teacher is the hard time young people get. People say dreadful things about young people today.
“But look at these three young men standing here,” he said referring to the Melrosian and his supporters. “And look at these other young people sitting here and listening, concentrating. They are a tremendous credit.
“And it is that sense of duty and service to the community that marks young people out in Melrose. That they are prepared to give something back and that, in this day and age, is a rare, rare thing and marvellous to see.”
The evening’s ceremonies had opened with the installation and sashing of the 2013 Melrosian, Sam Thomson, by festival chairman, James Marjoribanks.
The new Melrosian told the crowd that as far back as he could remember, it had been his cherished dream to be Melrosian.
“And today this dream has come true. Accepting this sash of office fills me with immense pride and I fully appreciate this honour it confers,” he said.
“It also gives me particular pleasure to serve as your Melrosian in this our 75th year, when we mark the appointment of John Frater as the first Melrosian in 1938.”
The Ex-Melrosian’s Rosette went to Scott Marjoribanks, Melrosian in 2010, and the Silver Jubilee Melrosian’s medal to Grant Rutherford.
The Festival Queen was then crowned by Mrs Gill Ledingham, after which Mr Marjoribanks introduced the Queen’s court – First Attendant Erin Hogg, Second Attendant Katy Watters, Courtiers Michael Ferguson and Callum Weston, Heralds Thomas Billet and Matthew Pender, and Trainbearers Lucy Cathrow and Cara Davidson.
Silver Jubilee Queen Amanda Gow (Fothergill) was then presented with a bouquet to mark her anniversary, but Golden Jubilee Queen Christine Masini (Billing) was unable to attend due to commitments in Italy.