'Jethart's Here' the cry for Jamie's big day

YOU could have heard a pin drop in Jedburgh last Friday morning, however, Callant Jamie McCraw quickly shattered the silence as he raised the Royal Burgh Flag and roared the age-old battle cry "Jethart's Here!".

The hush that had descended upon the town, prior to the poignant ceremony, was almost eerie.

Just minutes before Callant McCraw had dismounted his steed, Whisperer, and presented the Burgh standard to Mary Wyse, wife of provost Len, who pinned a rosette to the flag and quietly told the 24-year-old joiner "Enjoy your day".

After remounting and crying out those immortal words, the huge crowd joined Jedburgh Instrumental Band, which next year celebrates its 150th anniversary, in a rousing chorus of the famous song.

"From the moment that cheer went up and the cavalcade moved off, I knew this was going to be the greatest day of my life," said Jamie after safely completing the ride and making the ceremonial return of the flag to Provost Wyse some three hours later.

He added: "What a glorious Festival Day with the sun shining and so many young people involved. It was one of the most pleasing aspects that our festival has so much support from the youth of the town, but you need the weather and I was very lucky."

Jamie went on to pay tribute to his Right and Left-Hand Men Niki Hill and Steven Turnbull as well as Herald Billy Spence for their support and also to his parents Roddie and Margaret.

"My mum and dad have been brilliant and I know they were very proud," he continued.

The scale of Jamie's role hit him last week. However, following well supported rides the first to Southdean, which attracted a record turnout of 150 riders, to the last at Ancrum on the Wednesday, Callant McCraw had moulded into the his role.

"But nothing could have prepared me for Thursday night's investiture when the enormity of this honour really struck home," said Jamie.

Friday was soon upon the young Callant and amid a flurry of hip hip hoorays from Ex-Callants at the rear, the cavalcade set out on the ride to Ferniehirst Castle.

The steep descent to the Kerr family stronghold claimed the only riding casualty of the day with 1977 Callant Rob Hogg sustaining a broken collar bone when unshipped by his horse.

Hundreds of supporters had made the journey to the castle, where an official welcome to the Callant came from Lady Clare Kerr, granddaughter of the Marquis of Lothian and eldest daughter of Lord Ancram (Michael Ancrum MP).

But before that, Provost Wyse had welcomed the company and invited Ex-Callant Jim Millar to give his usual impassioned recitation of 'The Reprisal'.

Lady Clare Kerr's address was warmly received and gratefully acknowledged by the Callant who then led a spirited chorus of 'The Brave Lads o' Jethart'.

By the time the riders had made their way to Douglas Camp at Linthaughlee, a large gathering had assembled beside the A68. The crowd was rewarded with the sight of Callant McCraw leading his followers over the brow of the hill before halting in the field opposite the ancient hanging tree.

The principals were then greeted by Callants Club president Bob Hewie who, in a simple ceremony, pinned a sprig from the tree to the Callant's lapel.

After continuing their journey via Hundalee Bank and Lightpipehall, the riders were met by a crowd at The Toll from where the band led the riders to Market Place and down Canongate for the fording of the Jed at the Auld Brig.

The cheers, which continued to accompany the cavalcade to Townfoot Brig and then along High Street, were stilled when, flanked by Niki and Steven, the Callant laid a wreath at the War Memorial.

By the time the Jethart Flag had been returned to the platform, the Callant was able to indulge himself with a broad smile, his popularity endorsed by the cavalcade on its ride-past.

Festival Convener Jim Tunnah hailed the event a huge success. "The principals excelled in every way and in Jamie McCraw we had a superb Callant who have 110% at all times."

The Rutherford Medal for the oldest rider on Friday went to Hawick's Bob Muir.