It's all change on the Braw Lads' committee
It might be months before the Borders' common riding season kicks off again, but for those organising committees working away behind the scenes, there's little respite.
And in Galashiels, a host of fresh faces has been appointed to help plan next year’s braw lads’ gathering.
Bill White and Jodie Millar have been announced as the association’s new president and chairman respectively.
Financial planning firm boss Bill, 65, served the town as a councillor from 2012 to 2017 and as chairman of its community council from 2003 to 2012.
He is currently vice-chairman of regeneration group Energise Galashiels.
Though he has not missed a gala day in 15 years, Bill admits to finding his new role “a wee bit daunting”.
“The first time I have to walk out on to the balcony and give the speech, that will be when it really kicks off,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to welcoming people to the town and keeping the profile of Gala up there where it should be.
“I’ve never been on the executive, so it came completely out of the blue, but it’s not something you should turn down, and it’s a great honour for me.
“I think that a lot of people think it just happens, but I always say that, by a long chalk, the braw lads’ gathering is the biggest event in the town. There is more to it than meets the eye.”
He’ll be supported during his three-year term by wife Fiona and children Bruce and Lisa.
It’s a step into much more familiar territory for the gathering’s new chairman, Jodie Millar, the man tasked with leading the 24-strong committee for the next two-years.
The 43-year-old hairdresser has served on the executive committee for over 20 years, as chief marshall from 2010 to 2015, then vice-chairman from 2000 to 2005.
“It’s an absolute honour,” he said.
“The chairman’s role as head of the committee involves steering them in the right direction and organising sub-committees for the various events. It’s the glue that binds it all together.
“It’s quite nice that we’ve got a lot of new blood in.
“We’ve nine new members and have a full committee for the first time in years.
“It’s all really positive and quite exciting.
“We’ll have a lot more members, new ideas and fresh faces, but the heart of the gathering stays the same.
“The traditions and services are set in stone, so they will always remain.”
A well-known face through his work with the Right Angle Theatre Company and the Gail Wilson Memorial Trust, Jodie’s first public duty will be on declaration night in April.
He won’t be letting his ceremonial and organisational duties keep him from following on horseback, however.
“I think I will be the first chairman to follow on horseback since 1979,” he added. “I have ridden over 30 gatherings, and I’m fairly keen to do it this year. It just doesn’t feel right otherwise.”
The association’s new honorary clerk and minute secretary are Hazel Hunter and Zoe Brydon respectively, and its new vice-chairman is Craig Whitehead.
Stephen Headspeath remains as junior vice-chairman and Kirsty Simpson continues as honorary treasurer.