FRIDAY evening saw the Tontine Hotel play host to the Guildry Corporation of Peebles Annual Supper.

Prior to the meal, Dean of Guild Alastair Dodds started proceedings by welcoming two new members, Adrian Swanston and Ian McLeod to the Corporation.

In accordance with age old tradition they were sworn into the corporation by the Guildry Clerk David Kilshaw in front of the Guildry brethren.

Music accompaniment for the evening was provided very ably by singer John Fairless with Bob Harrison on piano. Returning to Peebles for the evening was member Peter Gilmore who provided music by way of his guitar.

Proposing the toast to the Town and Trade of Peebles was Peebles man, Squadron Leader Stewart Campbell. In his opening remarks Stewart spoke of his pride at being invited to speak in his home town and of his early schooling days at Priorsford Primary School and Peebles High School and he admitted that while he was used to giving presentations he was a little nervous of speaking in front of his former headmaster, Guildry Member Graeme Murray.

He congratulated the Guildry Corporation for keeping history alive in Peebles and spoke at some length about all the clubs and organisation in the town that had helped shape the man he now was. He complimented the organisers of the groups he was involved in such as the Beavers, Cubs, air cadets, rugby club and Peebles Thistle which he felt contribute so much to the general well being of the town.

Stuart was very proud of the fact he was one of the founding members of the Peebles Cycling Club which has continued to grow from strength to strength.

Stuart then described how his career had went after joining the RAF in 2003 with an emphasis on, if I can do it so can any other young person, if you have a dream and a goal go after it and work hard. Through the years Stuart undertook many rolls including training pilots to fly and instructing instructors how to instruct. He undertook two tours of duty in Afghanistan flying fast jets. During his speech Stewart displayed slides of all the aircraft he was talking about bringing has speech to life. Most in Peebles know Stewart through his days in the Red Arrows. He joined the reds in 2013 which he felt was a great honour, he first displayed in 2014 and during his time there displayed at 233 public displays and had undertaken 157 fly pasts. The Red arrows were formed in 1964 and have displayed in 57 countries in support of British trade and industry. He was fortunate indeed to be part of the Red Arrows during there 50th anniversary year which was a very high profile year for the squadron and involved flying out to China in support of the British trade mission and reaching one billion people on live TV.

Stewart stated that for all the great places he has flown and displayed and proudly enjoyed every minute of every display or fly past the most memorable one by far was the fly past in his home town of Peebles to support the Alex Lucas memorial event in memory of Royal Marine Alex who sadly lost his life while serving in Afghanistan in 2008. Stewart stated that on the run in to Peebles he was able for a few seconds just look down and was astounded to see the large crowds that had gathered.

A remarkable coincidence also connects, Peebles to the RAF and indeed Russia. The company Replin which was partly founded in Peebles, in 1917 received a massive order for blue grey material for the Russian Imperial Army, unfortunately after the order was produced the Russian revolution took place which heralded the end of the Imperial Army. However Russia’s loss was Britain’s gain as the Royal Air Force was founded in 1918 and a shrewd businessman persuaded the powers that be that a blue grey uniform was just what the RAF required and to this day every RAF member wears the same colour originating in Peebles. To conclude Stewart played a short montage of films set to music taken from the cockpits of Red Arrows Jets while performing displays, everyone in the room was totally enthralled and was very appreciative of Stuarts very enlightening and interesting toast.

Guildry member Douglas Wright had the unenviable task of replying to Stewart and in his opening remarks he thanked him for his very interesting toast. Douglas then spoke of the benefits many young people have gained through their upbringing in Peebles with its traditions and their education gained in our great local schools. He spoke of several Peebleans all grown up in Peebles and made their various ways in the Royal Air Force.

Douglas then looked at the Town and Trade through the prism of the recent Callants book, Peebles and its People and compared it with the 2003 book of the same format and name. Since the 2003 book about 46 businesses are no longer in existence, however many more have sprung up to take their place including many self employed sole traders, in summary assessing that while it was disappointing to see businesses closing down, the trade in Peebles was a vibrant place with many more start ups.

Douglas also paid tribute to the many local groups which service sport, recreational, cultural and youth organisations many of which were in a very healthy state and a credit to the town. In particular he paid tribute to the hard work of the very successful Bonnie Peebles organisation derived from the community Council. This group work tirelessly to fund raise in order that they can carry out their work of keeping Peebles Bonnie. He did however note that while many organisations are flourishing there was a general lack of younger people in the community getting involved at an organisational level. In conclusion Douglas stated that the town was growing at a pace that outstrips the services required in the town and he called on the Guildry members to remain active and use their respected voice in the town in making a thoughtful and measured contribution to the deliberations about our towns future.

In his address to the Corporation John Falla in his usual passionate manner used the opportunity to make an appeal to the Guildry Corporation and the wider Peebles public for support in the ongoing plan to get a ‘men’s shed’ up and running in Peebles. He spoke in some detail about the benefits he has gained through many years of attending the Beltane Shed in Peebles.

He pointed out that although the Beltane shed is for preparing the Beltane festival many individuals representing other organisations make use of the property, the Callants Club, Agricultural Society, Christmas Lights the Rugby club and many more have all benefited by way of the Beltane Shed.

John acknowledged that he was fortunate to have family and friends who he could turn to or talk to but he was concerned that many in our community unfortunately do not have this luxury. He felt that the health and well being of having somewhere to go and talk, tinker or whatever was of great benefit not only to the individuals concerned but to the wider community. John felt that the common good trustees had done the town a disservice when they attached what John described as a prohibitive rent on common good premises which would have served well as a Men’s Shed, thus making the premises unviable. John appealed to the members of the Guildry to support any future proposal and indeed any future fund raising to make sure a men’s shed can be up and running in Peebles in the near future.

The new toast to the new members was proposed by Guildry member Gary Brown in which he outlined the qualities of our new members Ian McLeod and Adrian Swanston. The toast was replied to by Elmbank Printers owner Ian McLeod who thanked the Guildry on behalf of Adrian and himself for being invited to join their ranks.

The vote of thanks was ably carried out by David McGrath who thanked all concerned in making the night a success and to the Tontine Hotel and staff who once again excelled in their provision of an excellent meal.