'Little hitches' fail to take shine off Braw Lads' Gathering in Galashiels
AFTER washouts at Selkirk and Hawick, it was feared rain could dampen spirits at this year's Braw Lads' Gathering in Galashiels. But, in the end, the sun and community spirit shone on the town's Gala Day.
Braw Lad Ryan Mania and Braw Lass Nicola Mackay led this year's festivities. And, despite the traditional water crossing at Galafoot being cancelled on Saturday, organisers insisted it had been a success.
David Houston (pictured, right), chairman of the Braw Lads' Gathering Executive Council, came prepared for both eventualities - with an umbrella and shades.
And, with only a brief shower shortly before the Old Town Cross ceremony, he thanked everyone who turned out for their support.
Mr Houston said: "It was a great day. The highlight for me was the Mixing of the Roses ceremony when the sun came out. We had been worried all week about the weather but when the sun came out it really lit up the crowds.
"We checked the water level at Galafoot at 6am and it had actually risen a foot since the night before following the recent rain so there was just no way we could cross. If it had dropped there was a chance and that's why we leave it as late as possible to decide."
But he added: "Thanks to everybody who came out and supported us, we had a big horse turnout. Hopefully the ride wasn't cut too short because of boggy fields. The weather played a huge part but everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves."
The day began with the traditional sounding of the bugle from the balcony of the Burgh Chambers in Galashiels shortly after the clock struck 8am. It was played this year by Liam Orr, a member of St Ronan's Silver Band, who this year celebrated their 13th appearance at the festival.
And it was followed by the familiar address from Jim Amos, who returned to the role of Town Crier for the 27th year to announce the start of the 2012 Braw Lads' Gathering as crowds lined the streets below.
Before that, some 280 early risers, dressed in compulsory white shirt, shepherd's tartan tie and rosette, attended the Big Breakfast in the Volunteer Hall for two hours of pre-festival entertainment.
They included a number of visiting Principals from other Borders towns and beyond before the morning's ceremonial ride got underway along the aptly named Braw Lads' Brae.
However, the mounted procession arrived back late for the Final Act of Homage at the War Memorial after a gritting lorry which was spreading sand ahead of the gallop up Scott Street to stop horses sliding on the road malfunctioned. A rider was also reported to have suffered a leg injury during the gallop over Gala Hill.
Mr Houston said: "There were a couple of little hitches towards the end, but it was a great day with big crowds and the sun shining - what more could we ask for? This year's Principals were first class and I think they have really, really enjoyed themselves. They have had a great time and they will have a great summer."
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 09 Jul 12
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