Linton Whipman 2019
”There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” – Nelson Mandela
This quote sums up the role of Whipman and Lass in my opinion. Nobody takes on the mantle looking to benefit themselves but purely to represent the community to the best of our abilities, putting body and soul on the line, with the occasional libation thrown in. The Whipman Play week, all 9 days of it, can feel like an endurance test but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The support from our right hands Adrian and Fiona along with our left hands Rob and Becs was instrumental in us surviving, Delia more than me.
Nothing quite prepares you for the amount of time that’s involved or how quickly it goes by and what appeared to be a very long Summer of travelling through the Borders and beyond to other towns installations, introductions, ride outs and balls, is suddenly over in the blink of an eye. Thankfully we have many happy memories, numerous photos and social media posts to look back on and remind us of the best summer ever no matter what the weather threw at us. Personally I think that there’s nothing wrong with lots of rain making the ground soft, especially when you come off your horse!
Our favourite moment was during the school visits, when we asked the children if they had any questions. One wee boy asked what our favourite ride was and we thought, well we’ve only done Currie and Penicuik ride outs so far or does he mean what our favourite horses are. When we decided to tell him that Delia’s favourite horse was Sophie and mine was Jacko, he just looked at us as though we were mad before saying “NO, I mean the fairground rides”! It goes to show that the Whipman Play week means something different to us all.
“Know your limits” or “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade “. – Anon
It was particularly frustrating for me to come off my horse at the West Linton ride out and get up completely unscathed to then two days later play ladies netball for 10 minutes before my achilles snapped. A valuable life lesson was learned the hard way and whilst all of the ladies rushed to my aid, my left hand Rob quickly assessed the situation and then started taking photos of me lying on the ground. Word quickly went round the other Border Principals and I found myself the centre of attention for all of the wrong reasons but couldn’t help myself from laughing when we were at the Melrose Installation and the compere announced the Queen and recited everything she liked doing culminating in ladies netball!
However, one benefit of being in a wheelchair, apart from Delia having to do all of the driving, was when we went to Borders General Hospital to visit the patients. It was an instant icebreaker and made me able to relate to a number of the less mobile patients. The highlight was Betty from Gala, who we persuaded to swear allegiance to Linton and wear our rosette only to find her in the crowds at Gala’s Braw Lads day three weeks later wearing her Galashiels rosette. For someone in her eighties she performed a magnificent impression of a naughty school girl who’d just been caught in the act!
However, joking apart, it was a real pleasure to visit the Macmillan Centre at BGH and talk to a number of the patients, who were either starting on their journey with cancer or just completing it. Having experienced what they’re going through first hand, I always find it amazing the wonderful humour that people can have at what seems like their darkest time with the fear of not knowing what may happen. Thankfully the continuing advances in treatments and the superb care that we can now get means that there are more of us seeing the light at the end of the tunnel into which we’ve been placed.
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next – Gilda Radner
This is the advice I would give to our next Whipman and Lass as it rather sums up the moment when the Chairman, Hamish Dykes, phones you at the end of January and informs you of the good news that you’ve been chosen as this year’s Whipman.
There is so much to take in within such a short space of time along with numerous riding lessons for those of us who are novices. It’s then sorting out the diary in the short term, which I could never have done without Delia who continued to tell me what I had to wear, where I had to be and that our town song is not sung to the tune of seven brides for seven brothers. Instead of the old adage of practice, practice, practice it’s more of a case of in at the deep end and start swimming but fortunately you will have plenty of us to support you and see you safely through your journey.