THE west end of Hawick resonated with the first strains of the Drums and Fifes earlier tonight, heralding the election of 2013 Cornet Chris Ritson.
Roberton Place filled with bairns and cheers as the 23-year old opened his front door to the Halberdier and accepted the invitation for the treasured role, which he has described as “a dream come true.”
The proud Teri - who often took centre stage at this time of year as a high school pupil when reciting his poem ‘The Laddie on the Horse’ - first followed Cornet Craig Rodgerson in 2004 at the age of 14, gaining the coveted Mosstroopers badge the same year. And he has followed every year since, although this year he will be leading the cavalcade on board his own 16-year-old chestnut gelding, Troy.
Away from horses, Chris is best known for his skills on the rugby pitch, having played for the PSA and the Quins and even pulling on the Green jersey for a season, before moving to Hawick YM, and returning to the Quins. The Richard Brown Forestry Contractors worker, who also has a part-time job with Crosby’s the Chemist, says he cannot wait to start carrying out his duties as Cornet.
And by his side will be his Lass Heather Amos, whose strong ties with the Common-Riding began from the very day she was born - arriving into this world on the main day of celebrations back in 1993. The 19-year old is certainly no stranger to the Common-Riding customs, being the cousin of 1992 Cornet Craig Niblo, and herself having first followed Cornet Graham Robertson to Denholm in 2007.
But this year her association with the town’s traditions will be firmly cemented in the history books - and she can’t wait for it all to begin. The youngest daughter of Tam and Karal, Heather was educated at Trinity Primary and Hawick High. She spent almost a year working as a receptionist at Oculeye Opticians, before joining Hawick Cashmere where she is close to completing an apprenticeship as a hand sewer. Heather’s older sister is a staff nurse in Galashiels, and older brother Shaun is a sergeant in the Royal Air Force, and is currently based in Cyprus with his wife and fellow Teri Nikki (nee Rae). And making her family proud as she carries out all of her duties are among Heather’s hopes for this special Common-Riding, but, of course, she especially can’t wait to see Chris and his horse Troy carrying the Banner Blue.
Filling the special shoes of Acting Father and Mother for 2013 are Stuart Hunter and his wife Julie, of Longbaulk Road. Married for 21 years, they have two children, Greg, 19, and Rachel, 16. They are honoured to be chosen to act as the Common-Riding’s paternal figures. Born and bred Hawick man Stuart, a shima operator at Johnstons of Elgin, first followed Cornet Derek Inglis in 1978 and became a Mosstrooper the same year - receiving his junior badge from president Jake Short.
Acting Mother Julie was also born in Hawick at the Haigh Maternity Hospital, but lived in Australia and America in her early childhood and mid-teens. On returning to Hawick she joined Pringle of Scotland as a collar linker, before a change of career in 2006, which saw her gaining an adult nursing degree. She is now a staff nurse at Langholm’s Thomas Hope Hospital. Keen golfer Stuart has been crowned the town’s club champion on three occasions, and he and Julie are delighted to have been chosen to be part of Chris and Heather’s special year – an honour that has them bursting with pride.
All of the delighted Big Eight extend their best wishes to townsfolk and their hopes for a Common-Riding that is the best of a’, while sharing Cornet Ritson and his family’s sentiment: “Let’s hope the sun shines on oor grey auld toon.”