Cornet’s homes and hospitals tour

Buccleuch Home resident Violet Kerr and Cornet Gregor Hepburn
Buccleuch Home resident Violet Kerr and Cornet Gregor Hepburn

Cornet Gregor Hepburn and the rest of the Big Eight gave some of the town’s oldest Teries their own special slice of the Common-Riding last Tuesday when they toured the homes and hospitals.

One of the most emotional days in proceedings saw smiles, sing-songs, special words and the odd tear shared between those not able to support the Cornet this year, and the Principals who showed great patience and affection as they brought a twinkle to old Teri eyes.

The Cornet told the Hawick News: “I’d been told it is quite a hard day and it is, but I really enjoyed blethering and had some lovely conversations that even went back to the war. It was briliant just to meet everyone. You don’t ever think you can have such an effect on anyone, but to see everyone so happy to see us was extremely humbling.”

Each of the seven venues visited during the day, which was organised by the 1514 Club, rolled out the red carpet for their special guests, with St Andrew’s Nursing Home, West Port Day Unit, Hawick Community Hospital, Deanfield, St Margaret’s, Buccleuch and Teviot Court all affording the Cornet and his party a warm welcome, refreshments and gifts.

Accompanied by members of the Drums and Fifes, along with young singers Lauren Renwick and Robert Scott, Ian ‘High Tower’ Scott and Callants Club vice-president Bernie Armstrong, as well as Callants Club president Frank Scott who presented flowers to the homes, and Common-Riding Committee chairman Ian Scott – the day began at St Andrew’s. And with the Lasses resplendent in their Kirking outfits and the Big Four still in their jodphurs following the day’s early morning trip to St Leonards, a full day room – with residents enjoying a small sherry or dram – lapped up some special Common-Riding moments.

Following a sing-song and a few words from the Corne, thrilled resident Betty Howarth said: “It’s lovely to see them – this is our Common-Riding.”

And the importance of the visit was further higlighted by the home’s activity co-ordinator Cath Reid, who added: “There has been great excitement this morning with everyone getting dressed.

“It is really important to our residents who are Hawick people.”

Next at West Port the Big Eight’s kindness and ease with the older folk, who attend the unit as dementia sufferers, was once again to the fore as they took time to chat and sit with those lining the sunny day room. Smiles were upon all of their faces throughout, and patient Sheila Matthews said: “I love the Common-Riding and would never have missed this.”

Staff nurse Tom Hilton added: “We have doubled our intake today and that was their own choice. This gives everyone a real lift.”

And the Common-Riding spirit continued next door among Community Hospital patients, as the visits continued with the opening presentation of a hamper from 1514 Club president Alan Brown, followed by a song or two before the arrival of the Cornet and a buffet. And among those grinning from ear-to-ear was Rita Farries, the Left-Hand Lass Heather Amos’ great-aunt. She said: “This is brilliant. Everyone is that nice and I’m really proud. I could greet.”

Emotions were certainly running high as the Common-Riding party moved to Deanfield, where it was standing room-only as residential and day-centre patients welcomed their special guests. Resident Jenny McMichan, who presented a gift to the Cornet, commented: “This is all so lovely. I’ve been really excited to see them.”

But with a tight schedule to stick to it was time to move on to St Margaret’s, where stand-out singer Lauren Renwick once again wowed with her voice and guitar, before the Myreslawgreen home’s large day room welcomed the ever-smiling Principals. Tears were shed by some and special chats shared as the residents, all wearing ribbons, enjoyed the rekindling of memories. But then the atmosphere was sent soaring when, in time-honoured fashion, the Lasses kicked off their shoes and the Big Eight delighted the room, providing a few gigggles along the way, by performing the traditional reel.

Pat Hayman, activities co-ordinator, commented: “Today has created great excitement and brought back a lot of memories for residents. It means a lot.”

The penultimate homes visit was made at the adjacent Buccleuch, where the Bright Street residents eagerly awaited their special guests. With the Drums and Fifes setting the mood and the room swaying to Up Wi Auld Hawick, once again the Big Eight did themselves and Hawick proud, as they met residents and ensured the Common-Riding was brought to them.

And someone who made the most of every second was spritely 100-year-old Violet Kerr, whose enthusiasm and joy filled the room – stealing a wee kiss from the Cornet and revelling in the Big Eight’s rendition of Teribus. She told the Hawick News: “I’m really enjoying myself. I like the songs and just love the Common-Riding.”

As the day drew to a close it was the turn of Teviot Court to throw open its doors to the man-of-the-moment, with the Baker Street sheltered housing residents having enjoyed a special lunch and were sat at tables in eager anticipation of the annual visit and concert. Staff member Ruth Tripovic said: “This is the main event in our social calendar and everyone really looks forward to it. This is a huge turnout.”

The day is also marked out as a favourite in the Big Eight’s calendars, and for Acting Father Richie Lynn it was one he says will always remain in his mind. “It was quite emotional,” he told the Hawick News. “It was amazing to see the faces and smiles when the Cornet and his Lass walked in. Very special and it hits you what it means.”

1514 president Mr Brown added: “It is a tough morning and very emotional, but an important one. This is the old folks’ Common-Riding and the Big Eight did a great job.”