The historic and vibrant tradition of Annan Riding of the Marches, will be celebrated in the Annan the History Town talks programme finale next Tuesday evening (30th May), at Annan Old Parish Church Hall. Stuart Thompson MBE, Convenor of the Riding of the Marches, will present a fascinating insight into this proud local custom, including how the large annual event is organised, orchestrated and delivered for a present day audience.
Kathleen Cronie, who is organising these events on behalf of Annan the History Town, tells us more:
“It’s a joy to be welcoming Stuart Thompson MBE to present his talk: ‘Annan’s Proud Tradition of Riding of the Marches – A Celebration’. Annan’s Common Riding event spans almost seven centuries, a red-letter day for the communities of Annan that attracts thousands of people each year. Stuart’s talk sees the culmination of a well-received programme of local speakers, examining diverse historical themes, and we feel his passion and dedication will create a feel-good finale to the series, showcasing this exceptional event in Annan’s cultural calendar.”
Telling us more about the AROM, Stuart Thompson MBE said:
“Annan Riding of the Marches (AROM) has been held annually for nearly 700 years and is a date fixed in the diaries of Annanites, expats, visitors and local businesses. The event and its many strands is organised by volunteers under the direction of the General Committee. I hope the talk will raise awareness of the work that goes on each year by our dedicated committee members and volunteers to deliver one of the best traditional historical ceremonies in Scotland.”
Stuart, who has been involved with AROM since 1976, goes on to say:
“The checking of Annan’s boundaries is a historic local tradition, upheld throughout the generations which today still holds significant importance in the town. AROM brings together the community each July to showcase to our neighbours and the world what our town and the south has to offer.”
The stellar work of Annan Riding of the Marches was recognised in 2022 with the honour of receiving The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, known as the ‘MBE for volunteering’, created in 2002, to celebrate the late Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee. The award recognises extraordinary volunteers, who have consistently gone the extra mile to benefit their communities.
Highlighting the key role of volunteers, Stuart said:
“AROM supports directly approximately 100 volunteers and is the busiest period for local businesses out with the festive season. Our volunteers enjoy getting involved with the project and subsequently enjoy further volunteering opportunities within our community.”
The committee works in close collaboration with local businesses and other organisations, who Stuart feels are ‘the life blood’ of AROM, as well as the local council, Police Scotland and a variety of support agencies. They also enjoy a robust, dynamic relationship with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association which results in the highly acclaimed Pipe Band completion and the spectacular massed Pipe Bands.”
Another highlight of Stuart’s talk includes a glimpse back in time with an old Riding of the Marches film, bringing back memories and giving an insight into how the celebrations have evolved through the decades.
Speaking about what AROM means to the people of Annan, Stuart said:
“Collective community and physical gatherings make a tremendous difference. AROM offers the opportunity for this collective experience to take place among people that may not otherwise meet or believe they have things in common. The distinct value of such experiences appeals to people across generations, socio-economic backgrounds, or cultural tastes. Riding of the Marches instils strong community pride and provides a platform where people can experience, taking part in, or witness cultural activities over the calendar of events. This results in ROM participants engaging in culture simultaneously with others, which in turn results in meaningful, life-defining shared memories.”
Summing up, Kathleen said:
“We extend our warmest thanks to Stuart for supporting the Annan talks programme, and look forward to what I feel will be a most uplifting and entertaining presentation. The Riding of the Marches is a key event that the proud folk of Annan really get behind, and is a cornerstone of local culture and heritage. Thanks to Stuart, his colleagues, and the wider community, this event continues to thrive, adapting to the changing times and creating an inclusive experience that welcomes people from diverse backgrounds, generating interest for new visitors and annual stalwarts alike, and helping to ensure the torch is carried forward for future generations.”
- Event Details – Tuesday 30th May at 7:30pm at Annan Old Parish Church Hall
- Free Event – Suggested Donation £3