Celebrate ten years of Kelso Connections at the town hall this weekend

Kelso Connections...the four corners ceremony in Kelso which inspired Colin Henderson to launch the project ten years ago. (Pic: Gavin Horsburgh).
Kelso Connections...the four corners ceremony in Kelso which inspired Colin Henderson to launch the project ten years ago. (Pic: Gavin Horsburgh).

It is ten years since Kelso Connections was first formed, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

Each council in Scotland was given a grant to celebrate Homecoming 2009.

Here in the Borders, it was deemed best to use the money to promote community events through the Return to the Ridings project.

And Kelso Laddie Colin Henderson, who now MCs the Kelso Civic Week celebrations, hit on the idea of how to use the funds.

Hazel Woodsell, a fellow committee member, explained: “During the colour bussing ceremony, four children from each of the town’s primary schools are selected to stand in the four corners of the town square.

“The Kelso Laddie bows to each corner with his flag; it’s meant to symbolise people from Kelso who have since gone on to the four corners of the world.

New kid on the block...Claire Hill is featured in the final book to be published, More From Kelso.

New kid on the block...Claire Hill is featured in the final book to be published, More From Kelso.

“And that’s how Colin came up with the idea to celebrate people who have left over the centuries and gone on to make a name for themselves in their chosen country.”

The original four Kelso Connections members – Colin Henderson, Isabel Gordon from Friends of Kelso Museum (now Kelso Heritage Society), Christine Henderson from Kelso and District Amenity Society and Ruth Lyle from Kelso Library – set themselves a big challenge that first year.

Featuring worthies who had done exceptionally well since leaving Kelso, they created 40 storyboards charting their success which were displayed in a number of shop front windows around the town.

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government and Charity Begins at Home, they also published a book detailing all of those stories, We’re From Kelso.

Their work was praised locally and also commended by the government.

Inspired by what they had achieved, the original members decided to continue and, in 2014, Hazel Woodsell and Keith Cavers joined the ranks.

That year, thanks to funding from Charity Begins at Home, another book was published, We’re From Kelso Too, charting the lives of a further 30 people who were originally from the town.

And now, thanks to the Weir Charitable Trust, the project is coming to a close this weekend when the last book will be published.

More From Kelso charts the lives of a further 24 people and families from the town who deserve credit for their achievements.

To celebrate Kelso Connections final hurrah, an exhibition and book launch will be held in Kelso Town Hall this weekend.

The book launch will be held on Friday, from 7.30pm to 9pm when the public will also be the first to see Kelso Connections 94 storyboards under the one roof for the very first time.

And people will have ample opportunity to read them all, as the exhibition will also open on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

More From Kelso, funded by the Weir Charitable Trust, will be available to purchase for just £5.

And it’s well worth a fiver, with a new crop of people and families to discover.

Hazel said: “One of the interesting people featured this time round is Clair Hill, an international hockey player who is originally from the town.

“It also features two local families – Mein and Forrest – who were both renowned nationally and internationally, for furniture making and producing and selling salmon fishing equipment respectively.”

This weekend’s event will be a chance for the Kelso Connections team to reflect on their ten years of work.

“We’re setting up the 94 storyboards we’ve created during the ten years of the project in Kelso Town Hall,” said Hazel.

“It’s the final hurrah for the project so we’re very much looking forward to it.

“It will allow people to see how much work has gone into it over the years.

“We decided to call it a day in this tenth year as we’ve scoured the four corners of the globe and are now running out of Kelso Connections out there!”

However, all the hard work the Kelso Connections committee has done will not go to waste.

Hazel explained: “Kelso Heritage Society will use the storyboards for future exhibitions and events so they will continue to be put to good use.

“However, this weekend’s exhibition might be the last time people will have the chance to view them all under one roof.”

Among the many fascinating characters featured is the former governer general of New South Wales Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane and Adam Clark who built the Chain Bridge over the Danube in Budapest.