“It is better felt than telt,” is how Abbie Frankland aptly described the experience of being Braw Lass alongside her Braw Lad Cameron Pate.
Now 85 years old, the Braw Lads’ Gathering’s popularity shows no signs of waning in its old age, as thousands of Galaleans took to the streets, riverbanks and hills in and around the town to support the festival.
The Gathering was also a hit online, with almost 300 mentions on Twitter.
For Abbie and Cameron, the support – whether from the internet, from on-foot followers or their attendants – meant everything.
Twenty-year-old Abbie, a dental therapy student, said: “It was everything I ever thought it would be and so much more. The weather was incredible and it was amazing to see the supporters both on foot and horseback out in their masses.
“The highlight of the day for me was the Mixing of the Roses – its every little girl’s dream to stand on that platform. I can’t even describe the pride I felt raising the red and white roses in the air for all to see. The day was made even better by being able to share it with five people who have become great friends.
It was the best day of my life and a dream come trueAbbie Frankland
“Our attendants were an incredible support to us and I would like to thank Daniel (Whitehead) and Lucy (Black) in their last year as attendants.
“Many people have said you are only as good as those who have gone before you – so if Cameron and I can do half as good a job as them throughout our time in office we will be immensely proud.”
For Cameron, an auctioneer by profession with numerous family links to the Braw Lads’ Gathering, Scott Street provided his highlight.
He said: “I could not believe the crowds at Scott Street. I didn’t see anyone aside from my brother and mum and dad.
“Abbie carried out her duties well. It is great that the practice we put in came off.
“My attendants Gavin (Young) and Daniel were really good at keeping me right which has been helpful.”
Despite poor weather in the days running up to Braw Lads’ Saturday, the sun once again shone as President David Romanis – in his first year in the role – handed the Burgh Standard to Braw Lad Pate on the Burgh Chambers’ balcony at 8am.
With a cavalcade of 347 behind them, Cameron and Abbie set off on their momentous morning with the Raid Stane first up.
Cameron, who is a member of Galashiels Ex-Service Pipe Band, received the tradition wild plum tree sprigs, as did Bearer of the Sod Gavin Young and Bearer of the Stone Daniel Whitehead from the Braw Lass, Bearer of the Red Roses Alice Mackay and Bearer of the White Roses Lucy Black respectively.
Then it was across the low lying River Tweed to Abbotsford House before the horses made their way back.
There was unfortunately two accidents, the first seeing 2014 Melrosian Fraser Anderson falling from his horse near Cauldshiels Loch and being airlifted to hospital with cracked ribs.
The second fall at Boleside did not result in an injury to the rider but did cause a hold up of almost an hour, until the cavalcade galloped up Gala Hill.
Tears flowed at the Old Town ceremony as Braw Lass Frankland took centre stage with a perfectly-timed Mixing of the Roses.
After making the short walk to Old Gala House to meet the Laird of Galashiels, the Braw Lad and Lass led the horses up Scott Street – the highlight of the day for many.
Finally, Cameron paid homage to the 756 Galashiels men killed in conflict by dipping the flag on horseback in front of the War Memorial.
Summing up the day, Abbie added: “It was undoubtedly the best day of my life and a dream come true.
“I would like to thank everyone that has given me the opportunity to be Braw Lass and make the Gathering possible.”