As the dust settles on yet another triumphant celebration of Hawick Common-Riding in all its glory, Teries should feel a sense of pride that once again nowhere else can wi oor toon compare.
Last year’s historic quincentenary celebrations were always going to be a tough act to follow, but once again townsfolk have done what they do best and rallied roond their Cornet and their cherished Common-Riding in great numbers, relishing in 2015 with just as much pride and joy.
It has been the year of sunny ride-outs, large numbers of mounted supporters, huge cheering crowds at every outing, great turnouts at every function, concert and gathering, and a popular Cornet who has grinned from ear-to-ear throughout.
Gregor Hepburn has certainly endeared himself to all with his natural charm yet quiet dignity, and a genuine warmth and patience with every Teri young or old. And on Saturday when the weather dealt him the worst hand of his four-week tenure, he more than earned his place in the history books when he carried the Flag aloft on foot around the Moor.
Paying special tribute to the Cornet, Common-Riding Committee chairman Ian Scott told the Hawick News: “Every year we put massive pressure on our young Cornets to perform their duties well, and every year they come up to the mark. Gregor was no exception and lived up to all expectations.”
And alluding to Saturday when the incumbent showed great loyalty to the Banner Blue despite the elements, Mr Scott went on: “The Cornet showed remarkable willpower to carry our Banner safely through the most atrocious wind and rain and complete his duties. His parents should be justly proud that they have produced a son with such commitment and dedication.”
But for the modest Cornet, the honour which has been bestowed upon him and the knowledge that he has completed his role in exemplary fashion, is still sinking in.
“It has all meant so much to me, and the support from townsfolk has been amazing,” he stated. “It’s all going to take a while to sink in, but it has been the best experience of my life.”
Indeed, this Common-Riding has proved that every year is special, by not only being blessed with another deserving man-of-the-moment, but also the attributes of Right-Hand Man Ross Gibson and Left-Hand Man Chris Ritson, who have continued to be a credit to their town and carried out their duties with great spirit, friendliness and broad smiles.
And in Acting Father Richie Lynn, the town has boasted a big-hearted man who has shown a humble pride and quiet appreciation throughout – also creating his own unique extra piece of history with his trademark gesture of asking all the younger riders (now known as the ‘Pony Gang’) to ride alongside him at the front of the cavalcades.
The Fither, who says he is still on cloud nine, stated: “Being chosen as Acting Father was a dream come true, every minute was brilliant and I am just so proud. It has been the experience of a lifetime.”
And for a job well done, he, too, has received a glowing report card from the Common-Riding Committee. Mr Scott commented: “Richie is a man of few words. But everyone who heard him speak was left in no doubt of the feelings that lay behind those words and his huge desire to support the Cornet and complete his duties as Acting Senior Magistrate.”
This was was also the year that saw the grey auld toon blessed with four bright-eyed daughters who also deserve such praise, with Cornet’s Lass Lois McCredie, Right-Hand Lass Michelle Paxton, Left-Hand Lass Heather Amos and Acting Mother Lynne Gilchrist all possessing ever-present smiles, dignity and a glamour which has proved a hit with young and old.
Lois, whose style and elegance has shone, told the Hawick News: “It has been exciting, surreal and very emotional. There are so many highlights, it is an experience I will never forget.”
And providing a guiding hand throughout has been this year’s popular Acting Mother Lynne Gilchrist, whose good grace, good cheer and stunning outfits have won the affections of all. She told the Hawick News: “The whole experience has been absolutely fantastic, I can’t sum it up. Last week was marvellous, and I have so many memories and have enjoyed every minute.”
And making special mention of the bond that is formed among those lucky enough to become a Hawick Principal, the Acting Mother added: “Richie and I have made some new friends for life.”
And praise for the Big Eight and their conduct has been unanimous. Chairman Scott added: “I am very proud of the way the Principals carried out their duties on behalf of the committee and the town.”
Honorary Provost Stuart Marshall stated: “Our town should be extremely grateful to all the Principals this year who have been magnificent throughout.”
And although Hawick’s three special days of vast and ancient celebrations were blessed with so many highs, the Provost went on: “Whilst I have many memories of this great Common-Riding, I think one that will stand out for a long time to come is when I looked on the face of our Cornet when I presented him with the Flag at the Colour-Bussing, and I knew then what it all meant to him.”
Touching on the way in which the special magic of Hawick Common-Riding rubs off on everyone, Provost Marshall said of his chief guest, Rev. Michael Scouler: “Another moment that will remain with me forever was looking at the expressions of pride on the faces of our chief guest and his wife Katherine watching the Chase at the Nipknowes. They were so overcome with it all and kept telling me all weeekend what a wonderful time they were having.”
Indeed, the Trinity church minister says he has been overwhelmed by the magnitude and emotion of the occasion, as well as how good people have been to him during the Common-Riding. “I was determined not to let anybody down,” he stated. “You wouldn’t guess how humbling it is to be treated like royalty. The Common-Riding is so much bigger than individuals; its sheer scale and the work done behind the scenes is incredible. The Big Eight were once again a credit to the community. We have loved every moment.”
And for Left-Hand Man Ritson that is a sentiment which more than describes his past three years, as the town bids farewell to a son of Hawick who was born to be Cornet. Throughout his time he has radiated pride, enthusiasm and a massive smile, and he told the Hawick News: “Being Left-Hand Man to Gregor has been very special, and the last three years have meant everything to me. Being Hawick Cornet in 2013 was a dream come true. I would just like to thank everyone for their support over the last three years, I’ve had the time of my life.”
His equally popular and proud Lass Heather Amos added: “This year has been an emotional rollercoaster as I’ve tried not to keep thinking it was all coming to an end. But I have loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have made brilliant memories and also made great bonds.”
Heather, whose smile and style have also shone for the last three years, added: “I am so grateful to everyone who I have shared my time in office with for making it so special.”
With the Banner Blue safely returned to the council chamber and townsfolk taking time to reflect on the many memories, laughs, tears and cheers that yet another successful Common-Riding has brought, for one special Teri only a handful words are needed to sum up what has been the best of a’.
“It has been a dream come true,” said Cornet Gregor Hepburn.