This year’s Melrose Festival could not be in safer hands, as the young man leading the 2020 celebrations will have plenty of sound advice available to him.
Douglas Crawford, named Melrosian-elect for 2020 on Saturday evening, will not only be following in the footsteps of his father, but of elder brother and uncle too.
The 24-year old student, who splits his time between studying for a masters degree in performance psychology at Edinburgh University, and playing with Melrose Rugby Club, says this latest challenge is one he couldn’t turn down.
“When you grow up in the Borders you appreciate just how special our festivals and common ridings are, so to take on the role of Melrosian is a pretty important and unique thing to do,” Douglas said.
“My dad and brother were both Melrosians so I have had a pretty good idea of what it entails and growing up in Melrose I went to the festival week every year.
“I know what it’s all about and it’s pretty special to me.”
Douglas’s dad Michael, of family building firm JS Crawford, was 1984 Melrosian and is a past chairman of the festival committee. His uncle Cameron Crawford held the position in 1989, and Douglas’s brother Donald led the town’s 2015 celebrations.
“I spoke to Donald about it when I was first asked and he gave me a lot of good advice,” Douglas added. “As until you do it it can be hard to know what it’s really like. He really encouraged me to do it saying it was the best summer of his life.
“Ex-Melrosians have been really good too. It’s a pretty special club to be able to join.”
Joining that club does, however, mean a return to the saddle more than a few years on from Douglas’s lessons as a youngster.
“I didn’t ride as much as my siblings as by the time I got round to learning it was around the time of foot and mouth,” he said. “I had a couple lessons last week though and I am enjoying getting back into it.”
After attending St Mary’s School in Melrose, Douglas studied at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh before completing an undergraduate degree in psychology at Bath University and working as a recruitment consultant in London for a year.
In a welcome coincidence this year, his former rugby coach at Merchiston, Rob Moffat, also takes on his new role as Melrose Festival chairman.
“I have known Rob for ages,” Douglas added. “He coached me at rugby and I played with him at Melrose Cricket Club too. He is a legend and it’s nice that this is a first for both of us.”
Douglas returned to studies in Edinburgh last year and will be in for a busy summer juggling his dissertation and representing the town.
He will be supported through that time by right and left-hand men Ben Magowan, a former school mate and youth tennis team mate, and Harry Fletcher, who he has known for many years.
“The three of us have been really good friends for a while now,” Douglas added. “That made me want to do this this year, knowing that it’s two guys I know so well that will be sharing it with me.
“It will be great celebrating and going rough the other towns’ festivals to experience it all with them.”
Their first official duty will be the picking night for the queen and her court on Friday, May 1, before the three men lead Melrose Festival through its week-long festivities from June 14 to 20.