A COMPETITION to design a civic flag for East Lothian has been launched.

Run jointly by East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust, in association with the Lord Lyon and the Courier, the competition is open to anyone and is free to enter.

While the county is well-known for being the birthplace of the Saltire, Scotland’s flag, it does not have a flag of its own.

Councillor John McMillan, Provost for East Lothian, said: “Having a distinctive new civic flag for East Lothian will allow individuals and groups across the county to express pride in their local community, to celebrate their heritage and help raise recognition and awareness of East Lothian nationwide.

“I think this competition will capture the imagination of many people and will attract a great deal of interest from across the county, as well as further afield.

“I’m particularly keen for our schools to get involved too and I very much look forward to seeing all the entries as I’m sure they’ll be varied and inspiring.”

Michael Williams, Lord Lieutenant for East Lothian, said: “East Lothian is a very unique place and it is important that the county has its own flag.

“I am very interested to see what people come up with.”

Dave Williamson, chairman of the Scottish Flag Trust, added: “What makes this initiative particularly special is the collaborative working between East Lothian Council and the Scottish Flag Trust, along with the support and guidance of the Lord Lyon.

“We are hopeful that this competition, followed by a public vote, will deliver a new flag that will reflect the county and be welcomed by everyone.”

Once the competition deadline of February 28, 2018 has passed, an assessment panel will meet to consider all the submitted designs with a view to selecting a number of the best entries.

The panel will comprise the Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian and representatives from the court of the Lord Lyon, East Lothian Council, the Scottish Flag Trust and the Courier.

There will then be a public vote on the shortlisted designs.

All East Lothian residents will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite flag for the county.

And it is hoped that the winning flag will be unveiled in November 2018 at a public event.

Guidelines and entry forms for the competition are available at eastlothian.gov.uk, with hard copies available at council offices and libraries around the county.

Flags of other Scottish counties

East Lothian is not the first county or council area in Scotland to have a public ‘design-a-flag’ contest.

A decade ago, Orkney unveiled its flag (see below) following a public vote.

East Lothian Courier:

Shetland’s flag, meanwhile, dates from 1969 and uses the blue and white of the Saltire in the form of a Nordic cross – symbolising Shetland’s historical ties with Scandinavia (see below).

East Lothian Courier:

And just last year, flags were launched in Caithness and Kirkcudbrightshire thanks to input from the public.

The Caithness flag uses black to recall the county’s geology, while the gold and blue allude to the beaches and the sea. It also bears the traditional emblem of Caithness: a galley with a raven upon its sail.

The winning Kirkcudbrightshire design highlights the history of that county – the green and white represents the checked cloth used to count taxes by the Stewards of the Lords of Galloway, overlain by the cross of St Cuthbert.

And now it is East Lothian’s turn – green may feature heavily to reflect the Garden County, while blue could be used to show that East Lothian lies on the coast.

How to enter

With the competition to design a flag fit for East Lothian now open, here are a few handy tips for would-be entrants.

In terms of the design, keep it simple – the flag should be simple enough for a child to be able to draw it from memory; try to use just two or three colours and aim to reflect the county.

Any lettering should be avoided as it can be hard to see on a flag, and only use symbols which relate to East Lothian as a whole, although the lion rampant, which is prominent on East Lothian Council’s coat of arms (see below), also appears on the arms of many of the county’s ancient families.

East Lothian Courier:

Could the design of a new flag incorporate a lion rampant, or indeed the Saltire, which features on the coat of arms of the Royal Burgh of Haddington and District Community Council (see below)?

East Lothian Courier:

Online images will be accepted but all entries should be in A4 size and can be submitted either in hard copies to Civic Events, East Lothian Council, John Muir House, Haddington, EH41 3HA, or electronically to civic@eastlothian.gov.uk

They must include the name and contact number of the entrant or adult in the case of any submissions from under-16s.

Entries are open to individuals and groups but are not restricted to county residents.

Copies of the competition guidelines and application forms can be downloaded at eastlothian.gov.uk

Any queries regarding the competition terms and conditions should be emailed to info@scottishflagtrust.com