"AS with all the Border Festivals the Braw Lads' Gathering has a special ingredient that is unique to the town. Each ceremony re-enacts an event that made our town and the people of Gala what we are today. So at the end of the week I hope our overseas' visitors, whether native Galaleans or here for the first time, go home with very special memories of our Gathering and our town."
President Andrew Johnston, who revealed being appointed Braw Lad and Lass is the "highest honour that the town can confer on its youth", welcomed visitors from Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United States to Galashiels for the 2012 Braw Lads' Gathering at the Overseas Civic Reception in the town's Volunteer Hall on Thursday night.
They included exiled Galalean Lyn Hume who revealed she had not been home for the Gala Day for 40 years. She travelled more than 10,000 miles from Sydney to join in this year's festivities.
Speaking to the Border Telegraph following the ceremonial rideout on Saturday, Lyn said: "I've been in Sydney for 40 years and I've been home many times but never for the Gala Day so I've absolutely enjoyed every minute - Thursday night, Friday night, and today (Saturday) has been fabulous.
"It's a happy coincidence that I am back but knowing I would be home during the Braw Lads' Gathering I was determined to be here on the day. I've met so many fabulous people and exchanged some memories, it's been a trip down memory lane in many respects, I've just loved it.
"I loved the ceremony at the Raid Stane and the Old Town Cross. And I think just being up so close to it really makes you realise that it's truly special. We don't have anything like this in Australia but I have 101 photos and, when I go back, I'll just talk about it non-stop!"
Other guests at the Overseas Reception included local landowners and farmers who allow the organisers to cross their land during their rideouts, as well as the sponsors of the Gathering who donate money, cups, medals or services for their many events.Past Principals Sandy Heard and Roy Kinghorn, who were celebrating their 50th anniversary year, were also in attendance, along with Past Presidents, Life Members, and the Chairman of the Ex-Braw Lads' and Lasses' Association, as well as the current Principals and their parents.
The Braw Lads' Executive Council also announced two new Life Members on the night - festival stalwarts Drew Tulley and Marion Keith - for services to Gala and the Gathering.
Giving his address, Mr Johnston said: "Galashiels is very fortunate in the quality of the young men and women who come forward to be considered for the posts of Braw Lad and Braw Lass."
And he added: "However far you have journeyed to be with us tonight we are delighted that you are joining us to be part of the celebration of heritage and history which is this great gathering. So if it is your first visit or your hundred and first visit I hope you have a memorable time enjoying every minute of our traditional festivities."