The following are interviews by Simon Duke from the Berwickshire News shamelessly stolen for our web page………
“If there’s one woman in Eyemouth who knows what young Ailsa Landels is feeling at the moment it’s the town’s oldest surviving Herring Queen Anne Collin.
Ailsa has the honour for 2014, but you have to turn the clock back to 1946 for the moment that Anne, then known as Anne Rosie, was crowned.
Then only 14 years old, Anne was the first post-war queen and her reign brought a feeling of real buoyancy back to the town after a six-year Herring Queen hiatus.
Like it does to her fellow Herring Queen alumni and many others in Eyemouth, the festival still means an awful lot to Anne, now 82, and she is thrilled to be welcoming all of her family to the event next weekend to mark the 70th crowning.
Anne has four children, nine grand children and an amazing 20 great grandchildren with the majority of them travelling over from America –from New Hampshire, Boston and Chicago – for the Herring Queen which officially starts with Ailsa’s crowning on Saturday, July 26.
It will be like a clan gathering for Anne and her family as with Anne’s sister Jean being queen in 1956 and daughter Margaret wearing the crown in 1969, many other relatives are also making the trip to Eyemouth, with Jean’s family coming all the way from Dubai.
With so many mouths to feed and stories to catch up on the family are having their own reception at Eyemouth Golf Club next Saturday.
“My family is what keeps me young,” said Anne.
“I’m so proud of every one of them. We’ve got a surgeon, three lawyers, a few executives of global corporations and teachers in our brood; they’ve all done very well for themselves.
“But what I think is most fortunate at my age is the fact that I’ve been able to see so many of my great grand children grow up. The oldest is coming up to eight and number 21 is on the way!
“It was my son George who suggested that everyone come over for the 70th celebrations. We normally all meet at weddings, but they’ve dried up a bit now so what better occasion!”
George is going to be Anne’s escort for next Saturday’s crowning, a role that was filled by her husband James for the 60th crowning celebrations in 2004.
James has since passed away. As a big royalist, it’s a real shame he isn’t going to be around for the 70th.
“He loved the Herring Queen and all the pomp and ceremony,” said Anne
“He was a big supporter of everything that went on in the town and I’m sure he would have been getting really excited for next weekend if he was still here. I am sad he won’t be here to see it but I’m sure George will do a grand job. James, like me, was also so proud of our family.
“The only relative not able to come across next week is my grandson who is studying at Harvard University. But we celebrated last week as he was asked to come over and read one of his papers at a big event in Edinburgh.”
The younger members of Anne’s family are mightily intrigued by what Herring Queen week entails with Anne having to fill them in on a few of the traditions.
“I sent all of them a programme a while ago so they could get a flavour of what was on. I had to explain to them what fancy dress was and they were also really excited at the fact they could actually go outside in their ‘PJs’ for the Pyjama Parade.
“I can’t wait to see them get involved in everything.”
Anne said her lasting memory from her time in the Herring Queen spotlight was being “absolutely terrified,” adding that she hoped that Ailsa would be able to enjoy her special moment.
“I’m still hugely honoured at getting to be a Herring Queen and I still treasure the brooch that was made for me to wear for my crowning. It was made for me by a local jeweller and I’m the only one to have one like it as unfortunately he passed away the following year.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d still be here in my 80s ready to mark the 70th crowning.
“The fact that a number of the other former queens won’t be there really hammers home how lucky I am.
“Elsie, the girl who succeeded me as queen became a great friend and I know she’d have loved to be there.
“I had a great time at the 60th celebrations so I’m hoping there’ll be plenty of sunshine this time around. The town deserves it.”
“You have to go back to 1939 for the crowning of Eyemouth’s first Herring Queen, Mary Craig and although she’s no longer with us she’ll be represented at this year’s event.
Saturday, July 26 is a special day for Eyemouth Herring Queen as it will see the 70th crowning, with this year’s queen being Eyemouth High pupil Ailsa Landels.
Mary was the first girl to wear the crown and carry the responsibility of leading the town in its Herring Queen festivities.
Unfortunately, unlike 58 former queens, she won’t be there to see Ailsa’s crowning in a few weeks time, as she passed away four years ago, but her legacy will live on thanks to her daughter Muriel Alexander.
Muriel is travelling down to Berwickshire from Dunblane and has given away tickets to the Commonwealth Games rugby in order to be in Eyemouth for the event which her mother held so close to heart.
“I didn’t really think twice about giving up the tickets,” Muriel told ‘The Berwickshire’.
“Mum would’ve wanted me to go and I’m really looking forward to it.
“She was very proud of being a Herring Queen, particularly the first.
“She would often talk about it and it was something she held very dear.
“She went to both the 50th and 60th crowning celebrations so I owe it to her to be there for the 70th.”
Due to the outbreak of war, Mary actually reigned as Herring Queen throughout the combat before passing on the crown to her successor when peace was restored.
During her time as queen she went to university to study to be a teacher and taught in Eyemouth for a time after graduating.
She left the town in 1952 when she married her husband and spent the rest of her married life in MIdlothian.
But despite moving away from her hometown it never drifted far from her heart.
“Someone used to send cuttings from ‘The Berwickshire News’ of things they thought mum would be interested in and her cousin, Gracie Craig still lives in Eyemouth; I’m hoping she’ll be there for the celebrations.”
And although she has never lived in Eyemouth, Muriel herself is very fond of the place and donated the dress Mary wore for her crowning 75 years ago to the town’s museum.
“My dad sadly passed away nine months after mum died and I found the dress when I was sorting through things in the town.
“It makes more sense for it to be on display in Eyemouth than in a cupboard somewhere.
“I’m very proud of her and I’m sure crowning day will be quite emotional.”
Muriel is also planning on making a donation to Eyemouth RNLI with money raised from a collection at Mary’s funeral.”