THE chief guest for Common-Riding 2009 is exiled Teri Dr George Thorburn.
The announcement, which was made by Honorary Provost Zandra Elliot during last Friday's Callants Club dinner, was greeted with a warm round of applause from diners, many of whom will know George's brother John, the current Hawick RFC secretary.
George, a former high School pupil, is a doctor of horticulture who has lived and travelled around the world throughout his successful career, which began when he left Hawick aged 17 – having worked at Forbes Nursery at Wilton Lodge Park as a schoolboy – to study at the Royal Botanic Garden and Edinburgh University.
But George, who lives in the village of Broom, near Stratford Upon Avon, is still a keen advocate of Hawick and its Common-Riding.
Speaking to the Hawick News, he said: "I first knew about this in October when I received a letter from Provost Elliot, and I have to say I was astonished and flabbergasted to be considered for chief guest.
"I felt so many had gone before me that stood higher on the ground, but it is a huge honour because I am very much a Teri at heart and an exiled ambassador of Hawick."
Fifty-eight year old George, who is a freelance consultant, proved a popular guest speaker at the Callants Club dinner back in 2005. And Provost Elliot says she is delighted he will be this year's chief incumbent.
"George is a very nice person and a real Hawick man at heart. He is a Teri and well understands our traditions and passion, and certainly proved himself as a good speaker with a very amusing speech four years. He is a very popular choice."
George, whose father is former parks boss and boxing stalwart Jock Thorburn, returns to Hawick for the Common-Riding as often as he can. But he admits this year there will be a "full hoose" when he makes the extra special pilgrimage back to Hawick with his wife Karin.
George, who attended last Friday's Callants Club dinner, added: "I think I shook more hands than the Queen on Saturday at Mansfield Park. I feel very humbled and will certainly do my very best."