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Anniversary pair remember their ARoM day

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By Charlotte MacKay
Annan and Eskdale
Anniversary pair remember their ARoM day

ANNAN Riding of the Marches Day is always a special day for all Annanites.

But for Kevin Edgar and Frances Kean this year’s festivities would have been even more important, as they were due to mark the 50th anniversary of their term at Cornet and Cornet’s Lass.

Unfortunately the celebrations have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have both been reminiscing about their time in the iconic red jackets.

Kevin believes he was offered the chance to be cornet in 1970 after winning the Cornet’s Chase the two previous years.

He was living in Carrutherstown at the time and said: “Lou Wallace and Jack Murdoch arrived at the farmhouse and asked me if I was interested in becoming Cornet.

“I felt that it was a great opportunity for someone living outside the Annan parish, and as they say, the rest is history.

“I was very lucky and grateful to have a very sensible, outgoing Cornet’s Lass in Frances Kean and we had a great year, we rode all the traditional festivals.”

Unlike experienced rider Kevin, Frances did not know how to ride a horse when she was asked if she would be interested in being Cornet’s Lass.

She said: “I had followed Riding of the Marches and loved it for years, I had always been in the parade and followed the horses round on my bike and I had danced at the cafe-chantant for the principals.

“Lou Wallace lived about eight doors down the road from me and asked if I would be Cornet’s Lass, and I told him I didn’t actually know how to ride.

“That was in the February so from then until the first ride out I learned to ride with the help of Margaret Barbour, as she is now.”

Both Kevin and Frances have very happy memories from their time in office, with riding the burgh boundaries and visiting neighbouring towns being particular highlights.

Kevin’s association with AROM continued long after his time as Cornet, and he was asked to become marchriding convener the following year.

He said: “It was both challenging and rewarding, solving the various problems that temperamental horses and riders can produce each year. Insurance, liability and risk assessment are now much more to the fore.

“In the early years The Merse, down Port Street, was the ride out muster point and 20 or 25 horses was a good attendance.

“Annan ROM has been lucky to have had a good team of loyal helpers who have been invaluable in providing first aid cover, marshalling, shore crossings, traffic duties and their time and many thanks are due to them all.

“For the majority of the 50 years I have been on the marchriding committee, ridden the Marches and been the starter for the various chases.

“I have enjoyed every year and met a lot of interesting people, rode many different horses, made a lot of friends and had more than a few drinks!”

In contrast, Frances had 18 years away from AROM as she was serving in the Royal Air Force.

She said: “I’ve got many friends from my time in the Air Force, people I’m still in touch with after all these years, but when I came out there was nowhere else I wanted to go and live because there is nowhere quite like Annan.

“The Marches is all about history, the town has so much history and it is so good to see it.”

Although they will not be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary in the way they had planned, Kevin and Francis are hoping to each mark AROM Day in their own way tomorrow.

Kevin said: “It is a pity that the year I am due some complimentary tickets for the Cornet’s Ball it has had to be cancelled, but looking on the bright side I have avoided having to prepare a 50 years speech for our annual Cornet’s Supper.

“I was looking forward to riding this year but it was not to be, and I am already looking ahead and hope that I will still be involved next year.”

Frances added: “I do want to mark it in some way, if it’s a nice day I think I’ll go out in the garden and raise a glass to Annan Riding of the Marches.”

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