MEMBERS of the public will go to the polls on Friday, April 26, to cast their votes for the Honest Lad and Honest Lass as preparations continue for this year’s Musselburgh Festival.

Seeking election for 2019 are: Claire Dougal, 23; Aidan Maguire, 20; Michael Morrison, 22; and Abbie Thomson, 22.

Michael has served as an attendant for the past two years and Claire was also an attendant at last year’s festival, supporting Honest Lad Conor Scott and Honest Lass Katie McLaren as part of the official party.

Also throwing their hats into the ring this year are Aidan and Abbie, who are also delighted to be standing as candidates.

The following polling stations are open for voting Friday: Brunton Hall concourse, 10am-8pm; Musselburgh Primary Care Centre, 10am to 2pm; Musselburgh Museum, 10.30am until 4pm; Musselburgh East Community Centre, 5pm until 8pm; Musselburgh Rugby Club, 5pm to 8pm (this is a change to the information on the membership cards due to unforeseen circumstances); Wallyford Community Centre, 5pm to 8pm; Whitecraig Community Centre, 5pm to 8pm.

Each polling station is operated by members of festival organisers the Honest Toun’s Association and overseen by volunteers from the Rotary Club of Musselburgh and Old Musselburgh Club. At the end of the election, votes are counted by an independent team and supervised by a representative of each candidate.

The four candidates are now working hard to canvas for the public’s vote by selling membership cards costing £1 throughout the community.

Once purchased, these cards can then be presented at one of the listed polling stations on election day for votes to be cast.

The result of the election will initially be declared within The Brunton to the candidates, their families, local councillors and the association’s committee before being announced publicly from the outside balcony of the building at about 9pm.

In traditional style, the new Honest Lad, Honest Lass and attendants will be paraded around the town in an open carriage led by the Boys’ Brigade Pipe Band. Everyone is welcome to go along to hear the announcement and help get the 2019 Musselburgh Festival off to a great start.

A disco will take place in Musselburgh Rugby Club which will be open from 8.30pm, with entry £5.

Alison Elgin, association president, said: “We have four excellent candidates and they are all working hard to canvas votes. We do all that we can to ensure that the election is as fair and transparent as is possible, and we are really proud that the people of Musselburgh vote for their Honest Lad and Honest Lass each year.

“Plans are well under way for Festival Week 2019 with events which will hopefully appeal to everyone.

"This year we are working with Musselburgh Racecourse on their Community Race Day which will be held on Sunday, September 29. As a result of this, we can announce that, by voting in this year’s election, you will be admitted free of charge to Musselburgh Racecourse on the day when you present your membership card which will be stamped at the polling station when you vote.”

This year’s Musselburgh Festival will run from July 21 to 27.

The candidates are:

Claire Dougal

Claire, 23, was born and brought up in Whitecraig, attending Whitecraig Primary and Musselburgh Grammar Schools. She works at Pinkie Farm Shop as a general assistant. She has been a member of Musselburgh Crusaders Riding Club since she was 10 years old and won the youngest rider trophy at the age of 13. She has taken part in every Musselburgh rideout since she was eight years old and has participated in numerous fancy dress parades. She has also had the pleasure of attending numerous other towns’ rides and festivals over the last few years. Claire enjoys spending time with friends, family and her horse Ripper. She thoroughly enjoyed last year as an attendant, visiting local schools and businesses and representing Musselburgh in the Borders. She is looking forward to representing Musselburgh in 2019 after a fantastic year last year.

Aidan Maguire

Aidan, 20, was a pupil at Loretto RC Primary School in Musselburgh before attending St David’s High School in Dalkeith. During secondary school, he held part-time positions at TK Maxx and USC. On leaving school, he was appointed as an apprentice with Slight Joinery Ltd. Aidan’s interests include following national rugby and football teams as well as snowboarding, and he enjoys trying new sports.

He has been a spectator of the festival, watching the rideouts and fancy dress parade with his family and friends. Aidan has a good understanding of the history behind the festival and feels that this is the right time to become more involved

Michael Morrison

Michael, 22, attended Musselburgh Burgh Primary School and Musselburgh Grammar School. Originally living in Carberry, he moved to Musselburgh five years ago when his grandfather retired from his candle-making business. He has been involved in various community activities since his primary school days, having been a member of the Boys’ Brigade, a piper with the Boys’ Brigade band and a member of Musselburgh Rugby Club. He played for Musselburgh both at club and district level, and has been involved with assisting the training of junior rugby players. For the past two years, he has had the honour of supporting past Honest Lad Jamie Cameron and Honest Lad Conor Scott as their attendant, and it is his ambition to become Honest Lad himself and to represent Musselburgh. His time as attendant has prepared him well for this responsibility. Michael is currently employed as a security guard. He recently gained his bus driving qualifications and is keen to become a coach driver. He is looking forward to participating in the forthcoming festival and knows how enjoyable it can be for everyone.

Abbie Thomson

Abbie, 22, has lived in Musselburgh all her life and attended Campie Primary School and Musselburgh Grammar School, where she was a prefect in her fifth and sixth year. Growing up, she attended Brownies at Pinkie School and Guides at Northesk. She is currently in her final year studying BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Science at Scotland’s Rural University College and she is due to graduate in July. Abbie began riding at the age of 10 and was an active member of the local pony club. She spends most of her free time with her own horse, mucking out stables at a local livery yard or volunteering at the Riding for the Disabled Association. Having grown up watching the festival and taking part in the fancy dress parade when she was younger, Abbie is delighted to be a candidate for Honest Lass. She is looking forward to representing Musselburgh as part of the official party both at home and in the Borders.