When I was invited to write an article for this years Fair Programme, my first reaction was “Yes I would love to.” Then panic set in. “What would I write?” I thought and “Where do I begin?” If only my mum had been here today, she would have relished the thought of helping me to write my article. Then I met my former Primary 7 teacher, Mrs Kathleen Murray and asked her what I should write about. “Just write down all your memories of being Queen” she replied and as we reminisced, everything came flooding back. As I write this, fond memories are also tinged with some sadness. Many of the people, including both of my parents, who helped to make my year as Fair Queen memorable, are no longer here.
I can’t believe its 30 years ago since I was chosen to be the second Deanburn Primary School Fair Queen. It was the 22nd of February 1979 and the entire School was assembled in the Gym Hall, to await the announcement of the Retinue for that years Fair.
Members of the Fair Committee were present and some parents were awaiting anxiously outside to hear the results of the voting. I had told my mum not bother coming to the school, as I wouldn’t be a Main character. I was sitting on the floor of the Gym when my name was read out and remember shaking like a leaf, as I made my way up to the stage, while everyone clapped and cheered. I couldn’t believe I was going to be Queen. Our Headmaster, the late Mr Jim Vallance, let me phone my parents and I remember shouting down the phone, “I’m the Queen.” Then my mum came running across the school playground with tears streaming down her face, followed by my dad, who was beaming with pride. As news spread around Bo’ness that the new Queen had been chosen, the name Kirsty Lockwood was met with some blank looks and “Never heard of her!” However, when told “You do know her, she’s Ena Potter’s lassie” everyone knew who I was. My mum had married a Yorkshire man, George Lockwood, but was still known more by her maiden name. (Strangely, I’m known more by my maiden name now.)
Everyone knew the Potter family, as my mum’s sister Sadie was Fair Queen in 1946. Everyone was delighted that the honour had returned to our family. The telephone never stopped ringing that day and neither did the doorbell. I received many cards and telegrams from well wishers. The wonderful neighbours of Firwood Drive formed a committee to organise the building of my arch. Family friend and former local Postman John Dickson, generously offered to buy my bouquet for the Fair day and even arranged for a special white velvet ribbon to be made, with Queen Kirsty embroidered on it. I’ve kept it to this day, along with all my other mementoes. Over the coming weeks, preparations were put in to place. Mrs Margaret Robertson (nee Thomson) began making my two dresses (one for the photograph for the Programme and the Kirkin and one for the Fair Day). Mrs Karen Darge was chosen to crown me. At school, we spent many hours rehearsing for the Big day, with our teacher Mrs Murray. The whole routine was carried out with great precision and I don’t know how many times we walked around the Gym Hall, keeping in exact time to the strains of “The Gold and Silver Waltz.” I also recall the “pretend crown” slipping at one point and ending up around my neck!
As the Fair Day loomed, and my dress was finished, invitations were sent out to selected guests to come to my dress showing. Unlike today, this took place in our house, where a mannequin was displayed in my bedroom, wearing my dress. In those days, just the 4 main characters showed their costumes to selected guests only. therefore keeping the dresses a big secret until the Fair Day.
Finally the Fair day arrived. We were all up very early to be ready for the Band arriving at 7.45am. The Band due to attend, was The Regimental Band of the Royal Scots, but they had cancelled at the last minute and the Norwegian Tananger School Band stepped into their place. This caused a slight hiccup for my dad, as it is customary to give the band a little refreshment when they attend (ie a wee dram!0 and my dad had stocked up on some alcoholic refreshments for the band members. He had to hastily stock up on Scotland’s other National drink (Irn Bru!) A vintage car came to take me to school and this amused me as we only lived round the corner from the school, as the netting of my dress tore on the car door and had to be cut with scissors, but luckily it was hidden. Once it was time to leave for the crowning ceremony, I was driven in a horse and carriage along with my two page boys, Brian Laird and Kurt Kynhoff and I recall it starting to rain a little and the roof was put up to shelter us. It was really cold and in fact, probably one of the coldest Fair Days ever! Walking into the Glebe Park to the Band playing The gold and Silver Waltz, filled me with great pride and even today, as soon as I hear the music, I get a lump in my throat, as memories flood back. Sitting up on the platform, looking out over the massive crowd of people in the park, is such a wonderful experience and one you never forget. As the Champion Garry Tobin delivered the challenge, his voice boomed out out over Bo’ness and I’m sure it was heard across the other side of the Forth! As if by magic, the sun came out just as I was crowned at 11 o’clock, to great cheers from the crowd. Many people will have forgotten, but the procession route was changed that year. It made its way along Panbrae, through Deanfield and up Castlehill onto Dean Road. Then we went along Jamieson Avenue, to Newtown and finished at Rosemount. I remember smiling constantly as I was photographed and I kept reminding my page boys to wave to everyone. The day passed too quickly and following the Gala Dinner at night, where I had to give a speech, we returned home to a street party with the neighbours. However, I think I was in bed fairly early, exhausted, but very happy.
Since my own Coronation, I have been honoured to attend the Centenary Fair in 1997 and the 100th Fair last year, 2008, as a Former Queen. Iwould like to thank the Fair Committee for inviting me to both celebrations and for making them such wonderful and memorable occasions. I hope Queen Elect Shanagh has a lovely Fair day 2009 and enjoys her year as Queen as much as I did. I wish all of the children of Bo’ness, including my own daughter Anna, who is a Flower Girl from Deanburn Primary and my nephew Christopher, who is a Lord in Waiting, a happy and memorable Fair Day 2009.
KIRSTY MILLER (Nee LOCKWOOD)
BO’NESS FAIR QUEEN 1979