A ‘real spectacle’ to live long in memory

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WHILE the Drums and Fife roused the population shortly after 6am last Friday, for one man, he was still in dream land several hours later.

For it was Common-Riding Morn and this was what Cornet Ross Nichol had been hoping, wishing and praying for since his earliest memories of the annual event.

The scene had been set by the best band in the world and the scuffle for snuff had drawn the usual enthusiastic crowd by the site of the Auld Brig. A large gathering had listened to the Big Four sing the Old Song at the front of the Tower and the air of expectancy was real.

And so with Flag in hand, leading a cavalcade of some 320 mounted supporters, from Hawick and all over the Borders and further afield, to the acclaim of scores of townsfolk, Cornet Nichol was quite rightly on the crest of a wave.

He said: “Hearing the Drums and Fife playing and the crowds cheering, I felt on top of the world. All my dreams had came true. I was leading a cavalcade of mounted men as Cornet to mark the boundaries of Hawick.”

Sadly the weather hadn’t been booked for the special occasion, but as the rain fell down it couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of thousands.

Hundreds flocked to the Hut and others made their way up the Howegate and the Loan, by car or by foot, destination the Wester Heather, undaunted by the showers.

Revellers flitted from car to car, for a brief punt on the horse racing and showpiece Tradesmen’s, and to the beer tents, under coats and umbrellas as the rain showed no signs of relenting.

But spirits were as high as ever.

“I think it brought people closer together,” said Fither Huggan. “A lot more time was spent in people’s company rather than walking around because it was just too wet.”

In summing up, Cornet Nichol said: “On days like Friday, it’s difficult to pick out highlights. The whole day was a real spectacle and I’ll never forget it.”

Full story and more photographs in the paper.