THE search has begun for a man to lead one of the oldest festivals in the Borders.

The week-long Whipman Festival takes each June in West Linton, and residents from the village, plus the areas of Carlops, Newlands, Kirkurd, Lamancha and Dolphinton are eligible for nominations as this year’s Whipman.

Formed in 1803 by local young men, the Whipman Play Society aimed to alleviate hardship and illness for its members and in the community at large. 

The formation occurred 42 years before the Poor Law Amendment (Scotland) Act, 1845, and possibly before the first insurance company was established in Scotland.

Tradition has it that a local man is elected to the office of ‘Whipman’ and he chooses a young lady to be his ‘Lass’.

These two represent the five parishes at other Borders festivals throughout their year in office.

The Whipman Week celebrations begin with the Installation of the Whipman and Lass, followed by a celebratory ceilidh.

The following day, the Ride Out introduces the Whipman to the area, followed by a week of events, which culminates in the annual sports day, held on the village green.

Sheila Forsyth, secretary of the Whipman Play Society told the Peeblesshire News: “Since, at this stage, only suggestions are required, the permission of the nominee need not be obtained. 

“Nominees should be of suitable character, but do not need to be able to ride a horse as training will be arranged if required.” 

Newsletters have been delivered throughout the area and include a nomination form that can either be handed in at the coffee morning in the Graham Institute on Saturday, January 27, dropped into a Whipman voting box in one of the village shops, hotel or restaurant or be posted, in a sealed envelope, to Hamish Dykes, South Slipperfield, West Linton, EH46 7AA, to arrive no later than Saturday, January 27. 

This year’s Whipman and Lass will take over from Rob and Becs Norris, who were unveiled at the introduction concert in April last year.

Rob moved to West Linton in 2003 after studying accountancy at Lancaster University before qualifying as a chartered accountant.

His wife, Becs, is a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire, who came to Scotland in 1989 to study psychology at Stirling University.

For more details about the Whipman Play Society, visit the website: