THE 2012 Duns Summer Festival got underway on Sunday when Reiver Martin Aitchison was entrusted with Town Standard and charged to return it at the end of the week ‘unsullied and untarnished’.
Martin, along with Reiver’s Lass Claire Whellans, their attendants Scott Lackenby and Iona Gibb and Wynsome Mayde elect Abigail Sullivan and current Wynsome Mayde Claire Wilson and their maids of honour attended the Kirkin’ at Duns Parish Church on Sunday morning.
The service, which was attended by a good number of Ex-Reivers and visiting principals, was conducted by the Rev Stephen Blakey, assisted by the Rev Ken Webb and Mr Jim Cook.
The Town Standard was then taken in procession from the church, led by Duns Pipe Band, to the Market Square where Summer Festival president Stuart Renton entrusted Reiver Martin with the standard.
The standard was then ‘bussed’ by reiver’s Lass Claire with this year’s colours of viola and bishop.
Brian Bolton, chairman of the Duns Ex-Reiver’s Association then presented both Martin and Claire with riding crops as a memento of their year in office.
He also made presentations to George Stotrey, Reiver of 50 years ago, and Steven Hutchison and Julie Todd, Reiver and Reiver’s Lass 25 years ago. A reception followed the opening ceremony in the Volunteer Hall.
In the evening the Family Cycle Run proved very popular despite the weather and and cyclists of all ages took part.
Duns Players and members of the Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society performed a one act play in the Volunteer Hall to a very appreciative audience.
On Monday afternoon the Reiver’s Party visited both the Knoll Hospital and Turnbull Court.
However, the highlight of Monday’s events was of course the crowning of the Wynsome Mayde Abigail Sullivan.
Due to the Public Park being flooded the crowning ceremony was staged, for the first time ever, in front of Duns Castle by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Hay.
The castle proved a superb backdrop for the ceremony which was carried out this year by Mrs Pat Scott.
The Duns Pipe Band, the Reiver, Reiver’s Lass and their attendants escorted Abigail and her court to the castle for her crowning.
A large crowd turned out to witness the colourful event. All those taking part seemed to enjoy the new venue despite a heavy but short shower of rain.
Abigail’s maydes of honour were Rachel Gray, Emily Redpath, Amber Moorhead and Leona Rhind.
Other members of her court were: Herald - Claudia Watson; Sword-bearer - Emma Patterson; Crown-bearer - Keiran Lyall; Courtiers - Jordan Patterson, Blake Demarco, Antony Little; Pages - Charlie Lindsay, Poppy Bunyan, Lewis Renton, Eden Robertson; Flower-bearers - Jamie Anderson, Amy Thomson, Sopie Aitchison, Kieran Burns, Keia Demarco, Rory Myatt, Tyra Dewar, Ben Simmonds, Sophie Scott, Tyler Smith, Alisha Sullivan, Andrew Gray, Jade Longstaff, Susanna McEwan, Rachel Burns, Cheyenne Lothian, Maddy Lerpiniere, Emily Myatt, Jamie Lindsay, Lewis Patterson.
After the ceremony the festival principals paid homage at the War Memorial in the Public Park by laying wreaths.
Over 30 riders of all ages took part in the mounted cavalcade around the town.
Despite the wet weather the Ex-Reivers Association once again staged the ever popular Bed Race which attracted five entries and a large crown turned out to watch the teams tackle the obstacle course in the park.
On Tuesday a Teddy Bears’ Picnic was held in the Volunteer Hall for parents and toddlers followed later by a Tea Dance with music supplied by Dod Hutchison.
The ‘Fun Kids’ Football’ was switched from the flooded Public Park to the old High School and a good number of youngsters took part.
In the evening he Reiver’s party set off on their ride to Duns Law and Bruntons.
At the Law a service was held to commemorate the encampment of the Covenanting Army on Duns Law in 1639.
There are still signs of their fortifications on the Law and a cairn marks the Covenanters’ Stone which wsas where they set up their standard and knelt and took the oath of allegiance “for Christ, Crown and Covenant”.
They were there to resist an attempt by Charles 1 to impose the Church of England on his Scottish subjects. As a result of missions between the two camps, a peace was arranged and a National Covenant was signed at Duns Castle where a copy is still preserved.
It has been said that Scotland retained her religious freedom not by Canon Law, not by Civil Law, but by Duns Law!
Homage was also paid at the Bruntons, the site of the old town of Duns repeatedly burned down by the English. An oration was given there by Mr Alec Hay.
The evening’s festivities were rounded off with a Family Ceilidh in the Volunteer Hall.