Delivering the Return to the Ridings Message

MANY Borderers are set to put pen to paper and invite their friends and family back to the region to 'Return to the Ridings'.

The Border common ridings and festivals have launched the Return to the Ridings invitations, a selection of iconic postcard images for each of the participating events, which residents can send to all their friends and family.

The Return to the Ridings is part of the Homecoming Scotland programme, extending the invitation to Border Scots throughout the world to return to their ridings and join a series of co-ordinated ancient festivals across the Scottish Border towns.

The postcards are free and can be collected from Tourist Information Centres, libraries and the town's common ridings committees.

E-versions of the postcards will also be available to download electronically from the Homecoming website: www.homecomingscotland2009.com.

During the Homecoming year 2009, the towns of Coldstream, Duns, Hawick, West Linton, Selkirk, Peebles, Melrose, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Kelso and Lauder will join together to celebrate their historic common ridings and festivals.

An iconic image capturing the unique culture of each common riding and festival was selected by each town's common ridings committees.

Coldstream's postcard depicts The Coldstreamer being piped to the wreath-laying service to commemorate the dead of the Battle of Flodden, 1513 whilst Duns' shows the Reiver, who is charged with the safekeeping of the Burgh flag, and Reivers Lass on their way to the summit of Duns Law.

Here in 1639 General Leslie's covenanting army encamped to oppose Charles I who was preparing to cross the River Tweed.

Commenting on the postcards, Andrew Johnston, chairman of the Border Common Ridings and Festivals Association, said: "The Return to the Ridings postcards are the perfect opportunity for all Borderers to invite their friends and relatives back to the Borders for the 2009 Border common ridings and festivals. The image that has been selected for each postcard reflects the unique culture and heritage of the common ridings.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for economic development, Scottish Borders Council added: "The common ridings and festivals are key events in the Scottish Borders tourism calendar and 2009 promises to be an extra special year for them all.

"Borderers have always been fiercely proud of their culture and traditions and the postcards launched today encapsulate just some of these practices for an international audience.

"The Return to the Ridings is a chance for Borderers to invite friends and family back to revisit these important traditions or, if they have not experienced these stunning events before, attend for the first time."