The Royal Burgh of Lanark Crest
Lanark Lanimers - One of Scotland's Oldest Traditions Lanimer Mascot - Larry Lanimer Mascot - Bonnie

An ancient celebration held within the Royal Burgh of Lanark on the Thursday between the Sixth and Twelfth days of June annually since the year 1140.

A Debut Missed, but a Dream Fulfilled...

Having become involved again, in recent years, in Lanark life, it was no surprise to find Margaret Kealey entertaining at several of the events I have attended, and to hear that she will have the honour of crowning this year's Lanimer Queen. In an earlier Lanimer brochure Margaret recalled her first Lanimer outing, a memory revived as she discussed her role this year. That debut, in 1954, as a three year old, on Mrs Diplacito's 'Alabama7, was interrupted when Margaret went down with whooping cough. She missed the procession, the first night of the Reception, and delay of her singing debut, 'Every little girl would like to be the fairy on the Christmas Tree7, while our other ballet 'starlets' such as the dainty Mary Burns and tiny Beth Frood demonstrated their talents, on points, behind her.

The Lanimer entry was a train, complete with engine and two carriages carrying some of the dancing school. Some appeared as 'Southern Belles' (you may recall that insert photo last year, of Beth Frood and Jean Brown). As part of the 'engine crew7 a gingham-clad 'Mama7, the late Joy Mclintock sat beside me. Angela Burns and I wore short dungarees over white tops, and large brimmed straw hats (swapped at night for top hats!). Margaret's outfit, as you can see, was in keeping with her being able to fulfil her evening role, and her singing debut.

Come the day, Margaret was not fit enough to attend the Reception on the Thursday night. As we lined up to bow to the Lanimer Queen at the start, (in those days all characters did this at the start, compared with today's more manageable split). Mrs Diplacito took me to the side and asked if I would sing Margaret's part for that night. She knew I had been singing from an early age, and I also happened to know all the words! That probably sealed it, along with the fact that the song was an accompaniment to part of the dancing performance. Its omission would probably have meant some of the solo dancers losing out on displaying their well-rehearsed steps.

There was, however, a problem. I had arrived made up for my own expected role, face blackened, blonde-haired, dressed like a boy, and wearing red tap shoes! Undaunted, I went to the side of the stage, out front, with a standing microphone, looking less like a fairy than could be imagined and launched forth, on Margaret's behalf with her debut song. Already a Lanimer Veteran' who had made her own debut in 1951,1 don't recall being phased by it all; and it was the Lanimers, after all, where anything can happen at the Reception. In retrospect, this would prove far less intimidating that facing peers at Lanark Grammar, in Church, Memorial Hall or the Assembly Hall, with solos endowed on me by Mrs Niederlie!

Fortunately Margaret recovered enough to take her role for the next two nights (there were three nights of the Reception in these days). Every one who has been in the Lanimers has tales to tell. That's part of a Lanarkian's life and memories. The Lanimers is part of childhood, schooldays, neighbourhood and community life in Lanark.

Margaret may have missed that debut in 1954, by a day, and may have thought the peak of her Lanimer involvement was accompanying Lorraine Swan in 1990, when she crowned Kym Mclvor. In recent years she has had to drive out of town, to work, as Lanark began the 'buzz' of Lanimer Day, but this year it will be very different. We all wish her well as she crowns Jenna at the Cross and fulfils a dream that many may have but relatively few can share. Have a great Lanimer Week, Margaret.

Molly Cumming