Townsfolk were stunned this week to learn that Stuart Marshall had resigned as chairman of Hawick Common-Riding Committee.
Mr Marshall, also the town’s honorary provost, made the shock announcement during last Thursday night’s annual general meeting in the lesser town hall.
Having delivered a detailed and upbeat chairman’s report which outlined the many success of this year’s Common-Riding, from chief guest Henry Douglas to the Big Eight and the many records broken, the yearly gathering took on a different tone when Mr Marshall asked permission to make an additional statement.
He began: “I am sure many of you are well aware of the constant disagreements that have taken place this year between myself and our secretary and treasurer, and the atmosphere that has now created between us.
“Well, I, for one, am not prepared to allow this to go on any longer and wish to draw a line under it all here and now for the sake of our Common-Riding. I therefore announce to you all this evening that I am resigning as your chairman.”
Mr Marshall, who stated he had had the privilege of presiding over five “outstanding” Cornets and vowed to remain on the committee as an ordinary member, went on: “I take with me some great memories and please be assured ladies and gentlemen that I leave with no bitterness.
“I can only thank everyone of you and indeed the townsfolk for the tremendous support and encouragement that has been shown to me during my term in office.”
And having made reference to “constant disagreements” with secretary and treasurer Frank and Janet Scott, Mr Marshall added: “Make no mistake, our Common-Riding is bigger than any individual, it was here long before any of us were born, and it will be here after the last of us are gone.”
During the meeting, Mr and Mrs Scott, sitting immediately to the right of Mr Marshall at the top table, did not respond. But this week, Mr Scott, who has been secretary for the last seven years, said: “I am very disappointed that Stuart has not completed his three-year term in office. And we have not had any disagreements, apart from pointing out that some decisions being made should have been made at full committee.”
Mr Scott further maintained: “We have just tried to keep him right and I’m shocked he has taken it personally. But I am sorry to see him go.”
Tribute at the meeting was immediately paid to Mr Marshall by Ex-Cornet and Common-Riding Master of Ceremonies John Hope, who took to his feet and said: “I was surprised and shocked to hear that Stuart was standing down. The time, effort and precision he has put in has been second to none.
“This has been a very, very special year for the people of Hawick and you should be highly commended for all the planning of the extra events. I want it on record that you will be a huge, huge miss.”
Committee member David Richardson added: “I’ve seen a few chairmen and you are one of the best. This is a sad night.”
Mr Marshall, who says he has been inundated with messages of support since his announcement, concluded his statement by urging the committee to get behind the new chairperson and to “continue the excellent work that had made townsfolk extremely proud of you, the members of Hawick Common-Riding Committee”.
Resignations were also tendered by Roger Hart, Lawrence Marshall and Gillian Morgan.