Smith Lends Support To Borders Common Ridings Homecoming

23 September 2008
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today lent his support to plans to integrate the Common Ridings and Festivals across the Borders as part of the Homecoming 2009 celebrations. Mr Smith was present at the Gatehouse of Fleet Ridings (albeit in Dumfries and Galloway) earlier this summer.

Speaking from Brussels Smith said:

"As Scotland's only full member of the Agriculture Committee I spend a lot of time stravaiging across the Borders and the Ridings are an integral part of the culture and tradition of the region. To link the Ridings together to bring expatriate Scots and their friends home is an inspired idea.

"Scots have travelled the world and it is clear we have a massive untapped resource in our diaspora only too keen to see Scotland do well and preserve and cherish what makes us distinctive.

"Here in Brussels I'm always struck by how important our traditions are in keeping our identity, and I'm delighted to support the Borders Riding initiative and congratulate those involved on a great idea."

The press release from Borders Council is below for further information.

United call for global Borderers to 'Return to the Ridings'

For the first time, the historic Border Common Ridings & Festivals are uniting to launch a major initiative as part of Scotland's first Homecoming celebrations.

The centuries old Scottish Borders Common Ridings & Festivals are joining together to support Scotland's first national Homecoming celebration by issuing a joint invitation to Border folk around the globe to Return to the Ridings in 2009.

First Minister Alex Salmond, said: "Homecoming 2009 promises to be an extraordinary celebration of Scotland's great contributions to the world. I'm delighted to extend the invitation to Border Scots throughout the world to return to their Common Ridings and Festivals and join a series of coordinated ancient festivals across Scottish Border towns.

"The Common Ridings & Festivals are recognised as a significant and much celebrated part of Scottish Borders tradition. The Return to the Ridings events, which will take place in 11 towns, will be a fantastic celebration of these traditions and is a welcome addition to the Homecoming 2009 programme."

Since the beginning of the 16th Century, Common Ridings & Festivals have formed an integral part of Scottish Borders tradition. Common Riding is an annual celebration that involves townsfolk in a grand ‘ride-out' around the town boundaries.

In total, 11 towns in the Scottish Borders use horses for the ride out. The events are friendly, heart-stirring and steeped in local history, including rousing music and song specific to each town. Visitors are always made welcome and will soon find themselves joining in - whether it's linking arms as the procession moves through the town or cheering the stunning displays of horsemanship as the riders gallop back into the town.

During the Homecoming year 2009, the towns of Hawick, West Linton, Selkirk, Peebles, Melrose, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Duns, Kelso, Lauder and Coldstream will all be inviting their exiles back home to join their celebrations. In addition to the established programme of Ridings & Festivals activity, each town is producing postcards to send to their relatives around the world. They are enhancing their events specifically for Homecoming year, and an exciting new website is currently being developed linking all the towns together for the first time.

With the Common Ridings & Festivals already established as a highlight of the Scottish Borders annual events calendar, Return to the Ridings looks set to become a flagship project in Homecoming Scotland 2009 national programme of celebration.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Executive Member for Economic Development, Scottish Borders Council, said: "The Common Ridings and festivals form an integral part of Scottish Borders life, and have done for centuries. Borders folk have emigrated all over the world and through Return to the Ridings we hope to reach those exiles and rekindle their interest in their ancestral town. Some may have experienced the Common Ridings before and we are hoping they will choose this Homecoming year to come back. For those who have never been to the Borders we hope to persuade them that these spectacular traditional events are part of their heritage and this is an open invitation to visit."

Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland, the government agency leading the delivery of Homecoming Scotland said: "Return to the Ridings is a fantastic fit with Homecoming and the call for people with Scots ancestry, as well as those who love Scotland, to come home in 2009. The Common Ridings and Festivals are an integral part of Borders life and embody the living traditions that appeal to people around the world who are or who feel connected with our country."