THE summer heat didn't deter locals and visitors from joining celebrations in Selkirk last week.

Massive crowds turned out on Friday (June 16) to see Thomas Bell take up his role as Royal Burgh Standard Bearer.

Thomas told the Border Telegraph it was an "absolutely perfect" day.

He said: "It was incredible.

"I couldn't have asked for a better day.

"It was absolutely perfect."

The forecast for Friday was for sun and few cloudy spells, with temperatures climbing close to 25°c as the day rolled on.

The sun even shone brightly at 6.45am for the Bussin’ on the balcony at Victoria Hall, a welcome change from last year when the dreich weather meant riders and spectators were standing in the rain during the casting.

The town was in high spirits thanks to the weather and having the chance to celebrate together once more.

After fording the Ettrick Water, riders made their way up to the Three Brethren before returning to Shawburn Toll before the Casting of the Colours.

After all the standard bearers had taken to the stage, and Thomas returned his flag to Provost Keith Miller, Thomas was joined by his attendants – Mathew Stanners, Sam Coltherd, Fraser Easson and Thomas Stanners – and looked out on the huge crowd of supporters.

He said: "It was crazy.

"I took it all in after the casting.

"And looking out on the crowd, it was mental how many people there were.

"It [the day] was building up for a long time and people said I should try to savour every minute.

"There were lots of pinch me moments."

Every step of the way Thomas was supported by his family and friends.

The 27-year-old, who works as a deputy course manager at SCHLOSS Roxburgh, said: “My dad, Graeme Bell, is a senior burgh officer so he was holding the flag when it was bussed and he got me on my horse in the morning.

"It was a very special day."

Thomas added that he has been 'overwhelmed' by the support from Souters.

He said: “Just a massive thank you to everyone.

"Not just for Friday but all leading up to it.

"All the support, all the cards and gifts and messages.

"It's been totally overwhelming."

Last year’s celebrations marked the first since the coronavirus, and Souters proved once again this year that the event is still a town favourite.

Selkirk was buzzing with excitement as Standard Bearer Thomas led riders around the town and out to the Three Brethren.

Provost Keith Miller said: “What a fantastic Common Riding 2023.

“Congratulations to Thomas Bell on a perfect job, with a smile always on your face.

“A huge well done too, to Mathew, Sam, Fraser and Tam for backing you up so well.

“You truly are a team.

“Thank you too, to our three bands, brilliant as always.

“A special well done to the Silver Band and Pipe Band.

“To march and play in that heat must have been hard going at times, but they were up to the task.”

He added: “To you, the people of Selkirk, your support was fantastic.

“Standing on the Casting Platform and looking around our Ancient Market Place was an amazing sight.

“I have never seen so many people, so many smiling faces.

“That is what makes all the work done by our many volunteers so worthwhile. Thank you all.

“Next year I will be there amongst you.”

This year also saw the return of the Selkirk Common Riding Gymkhana.

The annual event was postponed last year and thankfully had plenty of interested riders register for this year’s event at Philiphaugh.

A Gymkhana spokesperson said: “Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the Gymkhana today – lots of lovely ponies and horses, smart jockeys, lots of supporters and the Standard Bearer and his attendants.

“We must say a huge thank you to everyone who helped in the lead up and today – we cannot do it without everyone’s help.

“Our judges, stewards, writers, scorers, runners and secretary table were all amazing – thank you!

“Sponsorship from Quins, Harbro, Tarff and Bentham Auction Mart was gratefully received.”

For another year, “Safe Oot, Safe In”.