Fiona Deacon has made history by being appointed the burgh’s first female Standard Bearer – breaking centuries of male domination.
The army veteran was unanimously voted the 2014 Ex-Soldiers’ Association Standard Bearer on Sunday – the last of the six to be appointed from the incorporations and Casting organisations, before the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer is named tonight.
Fiona, a 43-year-old criminal justice officer, spent 18 years in the Women’s Royal Army Corps and Royal Military Police, where she served beside her husband of 21 years, David. The Ex-Soldiers’ Association was formed in 1910.
She told The Wee Paper: “My only desire is to follow in the footsteps of my fellow Ex-Soldiers’ Standard Bearers, and stand shoulder to shoulder with them, as I did with those men and women in HM Forces. It just so happens I am a woman. It’s a huge honour to be elected, especially in the centenary of the beginning of The Great War. I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of support.
“I am sure there will be reservations from some members of the community about me taking on this role. I would like to assure everyone I have the utmost respect for the long-standing traditions of Selkirk Common Riding, and have no wish to alter them.
“In that vein, I would not expect to be invited to the traditionally all-male functions, but would respectfully request that I be permitted to appoint a representative from our association to attend on my behalf.”
David Deacon cast the flag as the 2013 Ex-Soldiers’ Standard Bearer, with Fiona as Lady Busser. This year the flag will be bussed by David.
They’ve lived in Selkirk since 2006, raising two children – Callum, 16, and Rhian, 9.
Ex-Soldiers’ chairman Graham Easton said Fiona beat two men in the committee’s unanimous vote on Sunday, followed by “an emphatic round of applause”. Since the decision, town support has been overwhelming, he reported.
Congratulations flowed on social networking site Facebook – from David Mitchell, on behalf of the Ex-Standard Bearers’ Association, and Lindsay Cockburn, of the Colonial Society.
Others wrote: “About time!”, “A long time coming!” and “Way to go Selkirk, breaking the waves with the first woman Standard Bearer.”
An official from another casting association added: “Lady members are integral to all of Selkirk’s incorporations. It was just a matter of time. If you’re good enough to fight for your country, you’re good enough to cast a flag.”
Mr Easton added: “There are certain things you’ll never change, but this has opened the doors to more female members becoming Standard Bearers – hopefully.”