TWO notices of sincere thanks were served at the annual 1514 Dinner on Friday night – and they couldn’t have been more contrasting.
On the one hand, tributes were paid to the brave Hawick youths who routed the English at Hornshole and returned to the town with the Banner Blue. And, on the other, gratitude was expressed to the band of invading soldiers who chose that particular spot to rest their heads.
In his clever, emotional and thought-provoking toast to the Common-Riding, Archaeological Society president Ian Lowes said: “What a day to be a Teri [Common-Riding Friday] and live in the valley fair and wide, where Callants love wi’ honest pride, their toon upon the Border. When the emotion felt for and the pride we have, in our traditions, in our Cornet, in our Flag and in our town, brings the realisation that the Common-Riding isn’t just an event, it’s a state of mind. And it’s not just a spectacle, but of the spirit.
“And it’s that spirit, the same spirit that made youths who stayed from Flodden to rally round by Terioden, that has endured down through the centuries. And on Common-Riding morn, in an echo frae the past on Bonnie Teviotdale, it rises up, quickens the pulse and in our hearts we’re Callants for evermore as we watch, or are part of the cavalcade that follows the Banner Blue round the marches ensuring our Common is rightly guided for yet another year.”
While, former Hawick resident John Elliot, who now lives in Langholm, questioned what the town’s celebrations would be like today if that marauding English army had decided to ride on a few miles to Denholm or Jedburgh before camping for the night.
Giving his toast to the club, he said: “I’m sure there would still be a Common-Riding, but perish the thought, would it be more akin to some other Borders festivals, rather than the pre-eminent and unrivalled Common-Riding we have?
“With hindsight, we’re actually greatly indebted to the leader of that English band. To him, what was probably an impulsive and inconsequential decision to camp at Hornshole has created the key event in Hawick’s history. 1514 is what defines and unites all Teries.”
The two main speakers were straight out of the top drawer – as was the meal prepared by Brydons Bakery and Restaurant – on an evening which was matched by first-class entertainment.
President Dougie Rae had already hosted a hugely successful Burns supper and concert and made it a hat-trick as he chaired a dinner in the Burns Club which will live long in the memories of members and guests.
His pride at being the 35th president of the club was matched only by this year’s Cornet Michael Davidson, who became its newest member. He said: “As the youngest of the three main Common-Riding clubs, the 1514 Club does a lot of work, purely for the benefit of the town, its residents and its Common-Riding.”
And another who was relishing the occasion was Acting Father Grahame Nichol. Fresh from being officially installed as this year’s Acting Senior Magistrate, Grahame replied to a short and sweet toast from his former employer and Grand National-winning trainer John Leadbetter.
There was also a surprise for ‘Fither’ Grahame as his father Jackie spoke of the great honour it has been to see his son in the spotlight at this year’s celebrations.
The toast to the Right and Left was delivered by Hawick News reporter Gavin Gibbon, with the reply given by Right Hand Man Greg Easton.
As always at these occasions the talent was on show in abundance, with singing from Michael Aitken, Henry Douglas, Ronnie Nichol, Ian Anderson, Ian Landles, Bernie Armstrong, John Tait, Kenny King, Iain Scott, Viv Sharp and Ronnie Tait; with Ian Seeley on piano. There were also memorable medlies from the Saxhorn Band and Fifes and Drums.
The evening was brought to a close with a well-deserved vote of thanks to the chairman by club vice-president Andrew Johnson.