Braw Lad and Lass Robbie and Nicola prove a popular pair in Galashiels
This year’s Galashiels Braw Lad and Lass were unveiled to waiting crowds on Friday.
Townsfolk gathered around the burgh chambers balcony fell silent as Bill White, president of the Galashiels Braw Lads’ Gathering Association, introduced Robbie Lowrie and Nicola Laing in turn.
And both proved popular choices, receiving a huge applause from the hundreds of townsfolk all willing the rain to hold off long enough for the announcement and school hildren’s dancing.
Robbie, 21, of Meigle Street, has worked as lifeguard and swimming instructor at Selkirk pool for the last three years.
He said he is honoured to be named Braw Lad and he “can’t wait to get started”.
“I am most looking forward to the Braw Lads’ Gathering week and hope this is a summer to remember for everybody,” he said.
He’ll be supported by mum Nicki Thompson and stepdad Malky, dad Craig Lowrie and stepmum Andrea, brothers Ross and Kris and sisters Jaymie, Ellie, Katie and Jorja.
His girlfriend, Siobhon Andrew, is also from Galashiels.
“They are all over the moon,” Robbie added. “My mum and dad have known since I found out so they have had a little time for it to sink in, but now it’s all out there and people are congratulating them, it’s starting to sink in for real. It’s nice seeing how proud they are.”
Robbie’s great uncle Phil Orr was an attendant, but he is the first in his generation of the family to take on the role.
And while Robbie only began riding last August and has never followed on horseback before, he is looking forward to his first time at the head of the cavalcade on spurs night with Nicola by his side.
Both Robbie and Nicola were educated at St Peter’s Primary School and Galashiels Academy.
“Nicola was the year above me all through school so I knew her growing up and we’ve both gotten on really well since we found out,” Robbie added.
And for Nicola, 22, of Netherbank, becoming Braw Lass has been a lifelong ambition.
Her mum Gillian was an attendant in 1987, and Nicola has been following the gathering on horseback since she was six.
The Earlston High School administrative assistant said: “It has been a lifelong ambition of mine to be elected as Braw Lass.
“I was probably sat on a pony when I was three years old as my mum and sister had horses around all my life.
“I rode my first gala day when I was six and have followed every year since then apart from two years when I was injured.”
Nicola will be supported by mum Gillian Laing and her partner Bruce McClory, dad John Laing and his wife Jane and her sister Emma Blair now living in Jedburgh.
“They will be right behind me the whole time,” Nicola added. “My mum and I were quite emotional on Friday night and it looks like that emotion will continue right through just following in her footsteps.
“Friday evening was just amazing. I knew it would be exciting, but there was no way of knowing how nerve-wracking it was going to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I never thought it would be such a hard secret to keep.”
After that secret was finally out, the rain hung off just long enough for the principals to dance with schoolchildren before leading a walk to Bank Street Gardens.
Robbie and Nicola will be supported by bearers of the sod and stone and red and white roses, ex-principals Greg Kelly and Kimberley O’May and Greg Robertson and Amy Thomson.