Coldstream is second to none

COLDSTREAMER Craig Telford, Right Hand Man Ricky Hope and Left Hand Man Gareth Watson have spent the summer months representing Coldstream at the Borders festivals and now it is their turn to host the town's Civic Week celebrations.

At Sunday's opening ceremony, the sun shone on Henderson Park as Craig received the burgh standard and sash of office, in preparation for leading the week's cavalcades to Flodden, Norham, Birgham and Leitholm.

Ex-Coldstreamers once again turned out in good numbers for the occasion, and two Coldstream Guards were also on duty to add an extra dimension to the sashing ceremony.

Sunday was also a special day for William Common, who was celebrating being the Golden Jubilee Coldstreamer and Les Turnbull, who celebrated his 25th anniversary.

Both gave Craig plenty of advice to make the most of his week - one that will stay with him for ever - and to especially enjoy the moment when he leads the cavalcade of horses and riders along the town's High Street, and across Coldstream Bridge, to Flodden, today (Thursday, August 6).

During the Henderson Park ceremony special thoughts and a minute's silence served as a reminder of those who have been such a big part of civic week and are no longer with us, ex-Coldstreamers, Civic Week volunteers, and mention was also made of the recent death of a Coldstream Guardsman out in Afghanistan.

Presenting Coldstream chairman Jim Leifer reminded those present of the nonsense that the late Stuart Tait brought to the week's festivities - in particular the international golf competition which involved hitting golf balls across the River Tweed from the Coldstream bank onto the English bank of the river. An added dimension to the competition came about when Stuart persuaded a game Englishman to dress up in armour and be one of the targets!

Once the mother of the Left Hand Man, Meg Watson, had bussed the burgh standard with the 2009 Coldstreamer colours of coral and lilac, Coldstream Pipe Band led the parade of Coldstream principals, visiting principals and dignitaries, ex Coldstream Guards, youth organisations etc along to the parish church for the inauguration ceremony.

The parade then continued on to the war memorial where a short service was held as the Coldstreamer laid a wreath, and then it was on to the reception in Coldstream Community Centre.

Throughout the week the wide-ranging progreamme offers something for everyone, from tea dances and concerts, art exhibition to mushroom hunt.

The main focus of the week, however, is Flodden Day on Thursday, when hundreds of horses and riders from across the Borders and beyond converge on Coldstream, to follow the Coldstreamer across Coldstream Bridge and up to Flodden Field, pausing at the Flodden Memorial at the bottom of the hill to lay a wreath before the gallop up the field where the annual oration and ceremony takes place.

The day starts with the Earl of Home presenting the Coldstreamer with the Home colours to carry safely to the battle field and return them later.

At this ceremony the Coldstreamer is charged: "To lead the cavalcade assembled in Coldstream, to Flodden Field, the site of the battle, to commemorate the dead of both nations. Also to cut a sod of turf from the field to carry it back to Coldstream, to symbolise the actions of Abbess Hoppringle , of Coldstream Abbey."

On his return from Flodden Craig will return the colours to the Earl of Home at a service on the Tweed Green, when he will also lay the sod of turf from Flodden in memory of Abbess Hoppringle who organised the return of many of the Scottish noblemen who fell at the Battle of Flodden, so they could be buried in Scottish soil.

The signs are hopeful this year that there will not be a repeat of last year's atrocious weather which saw campers and caravanners hastily packing their belongings as the Tweed Green suddenly flooded after days of heavy rain.