‘She was so proud of being Herring Queen’

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You have to go back to 1939 for the crowning of Eyemouth’s first Herring Queen, Mary Craig and although she’s no longer with us she’ll be represented at this year’s event.

Saturday, July 26 is a special day for Eyemouth Herring Queen as it will see the 70th crowning, with this year’s queen being Eyemouth High pupil Ailsa Landels.

Mary was the first girl to wear the crown and carry the responsibility of leading the town in its Herring Queen festivities.

Unfortunately, unlike 58 former queens, she won’t be there to see Ailsa’s crowning in a few weeks time, as she passed away four years ago, but her legacy will live on thanks to her daughter Muriel Alexander.

Muriel is travelling down to Berwickshire from Dunblane and has given away tickets to the Commonwealth Games rugby in order to be in Eyemouth for the event which her mother held so close to heart.

“I didn’t really think twice about giving up the tickets,” Muriel told ‘The Berwickshire’.

“Mum would’ve wanted me to go and I’m really looking forward to it.

“She was very proud of being a Herring Queen, particularly the first.

“She would often talk about it and it was something she held very dear.

“She went to both the 50th and 60th crowning celebrations so I owe it to her to be there for the 70th.”

Due to the outbreak of war, Mary actually reigned as Herring Queen throughout the combat before passing on the crown to her successor when peace was restored.

During her time as queen she went to university to study to be a teacher and taught in Eyemouth for a time after graduating.

She left the town in 1952 when she married her husband and spent the rest of her married life in MIdlothian.

But despite moving away from her hometown it never drifted far from her heart.

“Someone used to send cuttings from ‘The Berwickshire News’ of things they thought mum would be interested in and her cousin, Gracie Craig still lives in Eyemouth; I’m hoping she’ll be there for the celebrations.”

And although she has never lived in Eyemouth, Muriel herself is very fond of the place and donated the dress Mary wore for her crowning 75 years ago to the town’s museum.

“My dad sadly passed away nine months after mum died and I found the dress when I was sorting through things in the town.

“It makes more sense for it to be on display in Eyemouth than in a cupboard somewhere.

“I’m very proud of her and I’m sure crowning day will be quite emotional.”

Muriel is also planning on making a donation to Eyemouth RNLI with money raised from a collection at Mary’s funeral.