Our first fundraising event of the year, the ‘Introduction Night’ is a traditional event when our newly elected Edinburgh Captain and Edinburgh Lass are introduced. These highly coveted roles are filled by elected candidates, who will be presented with their titled Sashes, installing them in their roles as the City of Edinburgh’s Principals for the Edinburgh Riding of the Marches.
A BIT ABOUT OUR 2021 EDINBURGH CAPTAIN & LASS ELECTS
2021 Edinburgh Captain Elect, Jay Sturgeon
2021 Captain Elect Jay Sturgeon is 23 years old and was born and raised in Edinburgh. He attended both Gracemount Primary School and the High School before entering his job at the City of Edinburgh Council where he is currently the Executive Assistant to the Head of Strategic Planning. Jay has worked in the Council for 6 years and has progressed through various different roles, initially starting working for the Chief Executive and completing his Modern Apprenticeship in the Chief Executive’s office.
Jay has been riding for over 10 years and began his riding career at Tower Farm Riding Stables in Edinburgh and continued to ride there before getting his own horses a few years later. Jay tells us, on being told he had been elected as Edinburgh Captain, that it is “an honour and privilege to take on the role.” Jay has followed the ride since its revival and being elected as Captain was something he never imagined would be achievable. Jay says ‘Since I was announced as Edinburgh Captain 2020 I have been utterly overwhelmed by the support I have received, especially from my family. They have seen me grow up around horses and take part in various common rides and now to be taking this leap and having my support-base cheer me on means a lot. I would like to share a quote from my Nana: “As a family we are all very proud of you for being selected for the position of Edinburgh Captain and think you deserve the recognition. We believe that you will carry out the role to the very best of your capabilities and with pride.”’
Jay is looking forward to engaging with Edinburgh’s neighbouring Common Riding and Festival towns and celebrating at their various events in 2021. He will also enjoy linking the role of Captain in with his job at Edinburgh City Council, focussing on raising awareness for the Edinburgh March Riding Association and getting involved in community engagement.
Jay has known his Edinburgh Lass Abbie McDowell since they were both learning to ride together and they are the best of friends, so he is thrilled to be sharing such a special experience with her.
An interesting fact about Jay is that he was a keen footballer when he was younger, playing for Tynecastle FC. But the lure of horse riding soon meant that he hung up his football boots and traded them in for jodhpur boots!
2021 Edinburgh Lass Elect, Abbie McDowall
2021 Lass Elect Abbie Mcdowall is 21 years old and was born and raised in Edinburgh. She went to primary school at Balgreen Primary School and High School at Tynecastle High School. Abbie works at Tower Farm Riding Stables where she is involved in teaching, taking out rides and the general care of the horses.
Abbie has followed the Edinburgh Riding of the Marches since its revival and would watch the procession of hundreds of horses up the Royal Mile in awe. As part of her job at Tower Farm Abbie worked alongside the Edinburgh March Riding Association, as part of the team that provides the event’s processional horses. She tells us “Now 10 years on, it’s surreal that I will be leading the next event. Being elected as the Edinburgh Lass means so much to me; my family have also followed the ride for many years and they are so incredibly proud of me to have been elected. My Dad sent me a message saying that when he found out he had goose-bumps and is so proud! This really makes it even more special.”
Abbie started riding when she was 6 years old, had a break for a few years and then returned to it when she was 9. Ever since then she has been absolutely hooked. Abbie has ridden the majority of the Scottish Borders rideouts – and had some unplanned dismounts – and absolutely loves it!
Abbie’s hobbies are pretty much taken up with her love of horses, especially her pony Percy. However, when she hasn’t got hay in her hair and shavings falling out of her boots she has a love of make-up, both doing other peoples’ and her own.
Abbie tells us “There is so much to look forward to next year and I’m looking forward to joining our neighbouring towns, learning more about their festivals and traditions before our own celebration in September. I am really excited about building new relationships and expand on existing ones with other towns. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, however once I am riding up the Royal Mile with my best friend and Captain Jay Sturgeon, it will all become very real! We have been friends for 10 years now and having him by my side for this experience will make it all the more special.”
The 2019 event took place at the prestigious City Chambers, when we also welcomed Frank Ross, Edinburgh’s Right Honorable Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost to the event, who presented our 2019 Principals with their Sashes.
Our outgoing 2018 Edinburgh Captain Gary Ulke and Edinburgh Lass Jennifer Caw handed over their lead responsibilities on the night, to the newly elected 2019 Edinburgh Captain, Connor Geddes and 2019 Edinburgh Lass Rose Hessell.
The evening included an excellent buffet dinner with catering by the City of Edinburgh’s City Chambers team of chefs, a disco and a fundraising raffle.
The annual event also welcomed other visiting towns and their Principals.
A BIT ABOUT OUR 2019 EDINBURGH CAPTAIN AND EDINBURGH LASS
2019 Edinburgh Captain, Connor Geddes
27 year old Connor was born and raised in Edinburgh.
Growing up, he wanted his career to be something that would always be needed. He applied for – and was accepted for – an electrical installation course with The Princes Trust. At the end of this course, he was offered an apprenticeship and has now been working with Nicholson Bros (Electrical Contractors) Ltd for 3 1/2 years. His work covers domestic electrical work, including fuse board changes, electrical installations, rewiring, helping people to make decisions on the job and helping to fix faults in people’s homes.
Outside of work, his interests are music, tattoo’s, rugby, American football, UFC, cars, fitness, boxing, cardistry and World’s Strongest Man!
Connor didn’t grow-up around horses – in fact he only started riding in October 2017 at the age of 25! He started riding after he witnessed his partner, Rose (who is the 2019 Edinburgh Lass), riding in the Edinburgh Riding of the Marches. Caught-up in the excitement of the event, he knew at that moment that he wanted to be part of it. He set off on a mission to learn to ride and encouraged by Rose, several riding lessons and an impromptu swimming lesson during a beach ride later, and here Connor is, taking up the reins as 2019 Edinburgh Captain! Connor has spent the last year or so taking part in some of the Scottish Borders Common Riding Festivals and says that in the short time he has become involved, it is the sense of community that he loves the most.
Connor is proud to be a tradesman of Edinburgh – a true son of the Blue Blanket – an electrician helping keep our city going one light bulb at a time!
2019 Edinburgh Lass, Rose Hessell
23 year old Rose has lived in Edinburgh her whole life, spending much of her childhood in the great outdoors and would often go hiking with her grandparents, mum and sisters, as well as spending every summer as a child on the Isle of Arran – a very special place for her family – her grandparents spent every summer there as a young courting couple and the tradition continued!
Rose started riding at the age of 3; her obsession began after her grandfather took her to clap the Clydesdales at the Royal Highland Show! Growing up and riding as a youngster, galloping along beaches with her mum on on riding holidays in Northern Scotland and spending most of her teens training and competing in equine vaulting, gave Rose an excellent start on horseback. Rose attended Craigmount High School where she excelled in sciences and art, developing her love of drawing and painting. It was following her studies at Oatridge College in West Lothian studying an HNC in Equine Studies that she discovered an interest in anatomy, horse health and nutrition.
Rose started working at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2017 – at first as a casual worker in the summer holidays, before going to Spain to work with Andalusian dressage stallions, however she eventually came back to Edinburgh to work there permanently as an Equine Hospital Groom. Her days are very varied, with something new every day – apart from the usual groom roles of feeding/mucking out the equine patients, she assists the vets with procedures, dropping horses for surgery, supervising students, administering medications, assisting with x-rays, MRI’s, scintigraphy, surgeries, lameness work-ups and looking after her allocated teaching horses, as well as keeping the place looking spic and span! Rose is very proud to work there and loves how much knowledge she has gained, giving her inspiration to further her education in the veterinary sector.
Outside of work, Rose owns her own horse, Bally, who she is slowly producing to do some showing with and just have fun! When she has a gap in her busy life, she loves reading, dog walks, music, pub grub, spending time with her friends and counting down to the Scottish Common Riding Season!