Ali ready for year as Hawick Cornet

2017 Cornet Ali George on picking night.
2017 Cornet Ali George on picking night.
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The young man at the centre of this year’s Hawick Common Riding will be Ali George.

Ali, 24, of Longcroft Crescent, said his appointment as Hawick Cornet was “a dream come true” and that he is “absolutely buzzing” ahead of his busy summer to come.

Halberdier Robert Payne calls at Longcroft Crescent for Ali George.

Halberdier Robert Payne calls at Longcroft Crescent for Ali George.

The former Drumlanrig Primary and Hawick High School pupil studied greenkeeping through an apprenticeship with Hawick Golf Club and has worked there as greenkeeper for the past seven years.

Ali is the first in his family to take on the role of cornet and will be supported throughout the common riding by proud parents Brian and Pam George, his younger brothers Taylor and Braden and younger sister Kaye.

The keen horseman first followed cornet Ben Graham in 2008 and, a year later, gained his Mosstroopers’ badge following cornet Jamie Richardson to Mosspaul.

“I have followed every year since then and supported the common riding as much as I could,” Ali said.

Ali George,  Katy Moffat, Kerry and Ronnie Frost.  Photograph: Derek Lunn.

Ali George, Katy Moffat, Kerry and Ronnie Frost. Photograph: Derek Lunn.

“It’s a dream come true to be cornet. Everybody is really excited and looking forward to supporting me. I’m just buzzing to get going now and just hope we get a bit of sunshine.”

This year’s cornet’s lass is Ali’s girlfriend of three years, Katy Moffat.

The 22-year-old nursery nurse, of Jedburgh, is also also a keen horse-rider and first followed on horseback at Hawick Common Riding nine years ago.

The couple met when Ali hired a horse off Katy’s mum Penny and, although not from Hawick, Katy is no stranger to the town’s traditions.

She said: “I have done quite a few of the other festivals and all of the Hawick rideouts in the past.

“I am looking forward to everything, especially seeing Ali take the flag and leading the chase. I’m especially looking forward to the colour-bussing too and have all my friends picked for my maids of honour.”

The former Parkside Primary and Earlston High pupil will be watched by her proud parents Brian, a joiner, and Penny, an animal health officer.

Katy said: “I’m just really excited and feel very lucky that I have been given this opportunity. I’m sure it will live up to expectations.”

The cornet’s acting father and acting mother for 2017 are Ronnie and Kerry Frost.

Hawick stalwart Ronnie has followed the common riding for almost 30 years, following cornet Stuart Farish for the first time in 1988, and he is known in the town as a past president of Hawick YM and Hawick Racing Association.

He is a foreman joiner with Persimmon Homes and has three sons – Brian, Derek, who now lives in Australia, and Graeme, who also rides.

Kerry, his wife of 12 years, is originally from Lauder and works in Hawick’s Santander bank.

The pair, entrusted with making sure everything is done right and runs to time, say they are very much looking forward to the coming months.

Ronnie said: “I know Ali well through the common riding, and we socialise in the same places.

“When I was asked, it was a straight out yes.

“I have four nights off in the next six weeks by the time we get around all the visits, smokers and everything else.”

Completing this year’s line up are right-hand man Euan Reilly, 2016’s cornet, with his lass Lisa McLean and left-hand man Gregor Hepburn with his lass Lois McCredie.