Young Niamh Jopp is about to make Lanimer history – by being crowned queen tomorrow - Friday!
The decision to call a general election on a Thursday, Lanark’s traditional Lanimer Day, caused a headache for organisers, but they solved it quickly by swapping over the Thursday and Friday events.
Now the final touches are being put to lorries and costumes, to decorated homes and streets, and to shop windows, and the town will be at its brightest and best for Niamh's crowning tomorrow.
Niamh, 11, was picked as Lanimer Queen in January and, with only four girls at New Lanark Primary in the running, she was worried.
“I was very very nervous because we are all friends, and I was worried that, whoever was picked, they would all fall out with each other, but that hasn’t happened,” she said. Niamh then chose two of the girls as her chief maids, and the other girl became a lady-in-waiting, keeping them all involved.
And there is no jealousy at home either: New Lanark Primary has chosen a royal theme for its procession entry, and Niamh’s younger sister Addi, 9, will be a princess with a dress and tiara every bit as regal as hers.
“It has worked out really well,” said their dad, Simon, an off-shore worker who has rearranged his shifts to give him the Lanimer days at home.
Niamh is a busy girl, playing the flute, and now playing football with one of Kirkfield United’s teams, training twice a week. She is also a dancer, and excited at the thought of performing at the reception.
“I am most looking forward to the reception, because that dances that we are doing are really, really fun,” she said. “The songs are quite new.
“And I am looking forward to being crowned as well.”
Mum Susan has the job of organising the decoration of their home in Muir Glen, but she has a solid Lanimer background. As Susan Patrick she was a maid, and her mum Jean Moffat was also a maid, as was her sister Gemma Patrick,
“Niamh is realistic about most things,” said Simon. “She has been extremely excited since the day she was picked, but she is quite level-headed and looking forward to everything. Everything is new and exciting and a challenge, so it is good.”
Tomorrow morning Lanark Lord Cornet Iain Hughes will lead the equestrian procession to the Memorial Hall for a toast at 9.40am, pipe and brass bands will assemble, and hundreds of costumed youngsters will take their places with lorries bursting with colour, music and imagination for the judging at the top of the town.
And at 10am, the procession sets off through Lanark, down the High Street, along the Wellgate, back round by Bannatyne Street and down again to the cross, where the children, by then clutching prize cards, will take their places on the stand below the statue of William Wallace.
Niamh and her court make up their own state procession, and once the other children are seated, she will be escorted up to her throne to be crowned by Jane Pillans.
Jane has been involved in Lanimers all her life. Her mother Beth Brown put out lorries for decades, and her family continued the tradition as the Kranal Club and more recently the Broons.
As Jane Brown, she was Lanimer queen in 1982, following in the footsteps of her mother Beth Frood and aunt Lorna Frood, and she is married to Stephen Pillans, lord cornet in 2013.
A local hairdresser, she is also an elder at St Nicholas Church and was a Girls’ Brigade leader.
After the crowning, it is down to Castlebank Park for all the families. Carryouts were banned there a few years ago, with the emphasis being on fun for the chidren. There will be live music, performances by some of the pipe and silver bands, inflatables and rides for the youngsters, stalls, and a refreshments tent.
Despite the change of date, the Lanimer committee has still managed to secure a full complement of bands, and they are set to provide a show for crowds at the cross from 5.15pm, when Lord Cornet Iain and ex-cornets ride down the High Street led by the massed pipe bands.
After he makes his declaration, announcing – hopefully – that the town’s boundaries are still in place, there will be displays by the massed pipes, and by silver bands and world pipe band champions North Lanarkshire Schools.
The beating of the retreat is followed by a lament by a lone piper, then depute lord-lieutenant and Lanimer stalwart Millar Stoddart will take the salute.
After that, the youngsters will have a made dash to the Lanimer queen’s reception in the Memorial Hall, where groups will perform songs on the themes of their lorries.
More Lanimer coverage can be seen in our eight-page pullout this week and in next week’s Gazette too.