Festival Queens are belles of the ball
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The Melrose Festival Queens of past and present pose for a photograph to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Crowning of the first Queen. Photo: Douglas Hardie.
IT may not be one of the oldest festivals in the Borders. But organisers insist it has more history than all the other Common ridings in the region put together.
This year, Melrose Festival marked an important milestone. The 2012 event celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Crowning of the First Festival Queen, Hilda Ross, in 1937.
And a record number of her successors, 34 in total, returned home to mark the occasion.
They included 1944 Festival Queen Kathleen Lawrie, who now lives in Dumfries and Galloway and was a Trainbearer in the very first Court all those years ago.
Reflecting on this year's event, Melrose Festival chairman George Bunyan, an ex-Melrosian and former Provost of Melrose, said: "It's been a special year. I think the highlight for me has been having had 34 of our former Queens here to join in our celebration and it's been great to see them."
Former Festival Queen Louise Bunyan celebrated her Silver Jubilee having been appointed in 1987. The former Melrose Grammar School dux girl currently works as a psychiatrist at the Royal Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen. But she revealed it was good to be back home.
Louise, who praised this year's Queen and Court, said: "I haven't been back for a long time so it's just been great to see the Festival doing so well.
"It's good that there are still a big number of people coming and it's been nice to catch up with people I remember from school - some of whom I haven't seen for a long time.
"I don't think very much has changed at all which I think is really nice to see, although they have updated the dresses which look really nice." But she added: "To be honest, my time as Queen feels just like yesterday."
The Silver Jubilee Queen was recognised at the Installation and Crowning ceremonies at Melrose Parish Church on Thursday evening, along with Golden Jubilee Queen Margaret (Paterson) Irvine, Silver Jubilee Melrosian Eddie Weatherly, and Golden Jubilee Melrosian Ian Johnstone.
Reflecting on the festivities, this year's Festival Queen Katy Wilkinson said: "I found it really fun. My favourite part of the whole week was probably the Crowning ceremony, even though it wasn't in the abbey, it was really special and I really enjoyed it."
Katy is only the fourth Festival Queen to come from Gattonside, which this year also provided First Attendant Imogen Walls. However, her mum Gill admitted she had done the village proud.
She said: "It's been a bit manic in our house this week but it's been lovely. There's been something on every night and the kids have had a great time.
"It was lovely to get into the abbey during the Tour of Ceremonies on Saturday, especially having not been able to have the Crowning ceremony there."
She added: "I think Katy's been quite cool about the whole thing but she has enjoyed it. She is usually a bit of a tom boy so it's been quite good fun to see her sitting getting her hair done in the hairdressers and enjoying all that. I am a very proud mum, it's been a lovely week."
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 29 Jun 12
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