UNLIKE the monsoon-deluged Friday of the Common Riding, the day before was blessed with fine, dry weather for the Olympic Torch relay visit to the royal burgh.
In fact, it looked like the ideal Common Riding day had come early, as hundreds of spectators jammed the town’s Market Place and lined other streets to witness the torch being carried through the town.
A team of eight runners, including five people from the Borders and Moscow Olympics 100m gold medallist Allan Wells, bore the Olympic flame past the cheering crowds.
The first leg of the torch run in Selkirk started in Linglie Road, before heading past Philiphaugh rugby ground, over the bridge, up Yarrow Terrace, along West Port and into Market Place.
None of the torch bearers who ran through Selkirk were actually from the town, much to the disappointment of many gathered to watch.
And things didn’t run completely smoothly either. The massed ranks of well-wishers packing Market Place had hoped to see Royal Burgh Standard Bearer Gavin Henderson welcome the flame onto the podium specially erected for the Common Riding Casting of the Colours.
But a last-minute change of plans was forced, as relay officials advised the welcoming party, including provost Les Miller, that the torch bearer could not mount the platform due to advertising-related issues caused by the Scotbet bookmakers’ sign in the background.
A hurried reorganisation in front of Sir Walter Scott’s statue eventually saw Standard Bearer Henderson able to welcome torch bearer Pauline Charles, from Galashiels, to the town.
He told The Wee Paper: “Being Olympic Standard Bearer was really exciting and something completely different for me.
“As far as I know this has never happened before on the Thursday before the Common Riding and it was something really special.”
And for one Galashiels 19-year-old, it was an experience she will never forget.
Borders College sports student Lisa Robertson, who has represented Scotland at both rugby and athletics, was nominated anonymously.
She started her section of the run in Linglie Road and passed the flame to Jedburgh teenager, Callum Dickson.
“It was a fantastic experience – absolutely incredible,” Lisa told us.
“All my family were out in force supporting and cheering me on and the sides of the street were packed with people.”
Among the crowds were Ettrick Terrace resident Shirley Boylan and her daughter Karina who celebrates her fifth birthday this week.
She told us: “It has been really great. Everyone was in a party mood and the atmosphere was phenomenal.
“It makes the Olympics that wee bit extra special and it’s a real honour that the flame has passed through Selkirk.”
Dave Valentine, from the Yarrow Valley, was at the Ettrick bridge with his two children, to witness the occasion. Asked why, he texplained: “It’s a worldwide event. It puts Selkirk at the centre of things, even if just for quarter-of-an-hour, or half-an-hour.”
Trish Gray, from Selkirk, said she was there because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “It’s something we’re never going to see again.”
Hilary McClymont, who farms in the Yarrow Valley with her husband, had brought along her two young sons, Sam, aged eight, and six-year-old Oliver to see the relay.
“The boys are mad keen on sport and, like everyone’s saying, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something they’ll remember when they’re older.”