Bruce and Alistair are Selkirk Merchant Company’s new leading men

Changes of faces within Selkirk Merchant Company were announced at its annual general meeting last Friday.

Outgoing master David Heard’s final duties involved appointing Bruce Riddell as 2019 standard bearer and community council chairman Alistair Pattullo as new master.

Bruce, 24, joined the merchant company in 2016 and follows in the footsteps of his brother Kieran, merchant standard bearer in 2013.

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Kieran was later royal burgh standard bearer in 2017, and his brother Ruairaidh was Selkirk Incorporation of Hammermen’s standard bearer in 2008.

Their dad Keith was royal burgh standard bearer in 1981.

Bruce works as a paralegal for Cullen and Kilshaw in Peebles and lives with his partner Kelly Mitchell, from Hawick, in Selkirk.

He said he would be one of the proudest men in Selkirk come common riding day in June.

Bruce told the Wee Paper: “It’s a dream come true. I have watched my brothers before me, and I have always wondered if there was an opportunity for me, and to get that opportunity is amazing.

“To get it so young and after joining just three years ago – I never saw that coming.”

Equally delighted with his appointment as master for the next two years is Alistair, who joined the company in 1998 and served as standard bearer in 2007.

He told the assembled members that it was an honour to be appointed and that he would carry out his duties to the best of his ability.

He told the Wee Paper: “I’m really excited about it.

“I was standard bearer in 2007 and have been on the committee pretty much since then, so it’s really nice to be able to contribute to and now lead the company.

“I’ve been in Selkirk for 30 years, and I’ve done many and varied things in my time here, including working in theatre, and I’m now the hall keeper at the Victoria Halls.

“I’m happy to be working with the new standard bearer – Bruce is a lovely lad.”

The annual dinner followed the meeting.

Bruce was introduced to the company by ex-standard bearer John Smail, who proposed Bruce for the company in 2016. Bruce replied in assured and confident manner.

The toast to Selkirk Merchant Company town and trade was proposed by Selkirk High School rector Jamie Bryson, and he talked about the links between the two institutions dating back hundreds of years and how they continue to this day.

The reply was given by new provost of Selkirk Common Riding Trust, Keith Miller, in what will be the first of many replies over the next three years.

Keith spoke about the ever-increasing costs of running the common riding and the constant changes to health and safety regulations.

Entertainment came from Hilary Bell and Tommy Knox, with Ann Witherington on the keyboard.

A vote of thanks was very well done by Ben Agate, who congratulated David Heard on his two years in office and wished new master Alistair all the best for the next two years.

Keith Rodgerson, Kieran Riddell and Nicola Stillie were admitted as new members.