This year’s Exiles Reception was a homecoming that will live long in the memories of the many Teries who returned home from all parts of the globe.
They had all arrived from far-off lands, plus these shores. What’s more, they came in droves. Home to Hawick. Home to the grey auld toon to celebrate an occasion that occurred 500 years ago.
And what lay in store last Wednesday night stands testament to what the Queen o’ a’ the Border means to folk worldwide.
It turned out to be a night that fitted the occasion and a little more besides.
What was to be a very memorable evening began with Provost Stuart Marshall welcoming exiles and guests.
The Provost then introduced Cornet Ross Gibson and his Lass Michelle Paxton and full party to a packed hall.
Following this, the Provost spoke of the great happenings that had been going on in Hawick.
He told a captive audience of the wonderful work of the Hawick Vision 2014 project. Work that brought about the fabulous Big Return, when more than 1,000 schoolchildren re-enacted the Battle of Hornshole in compelling fashion.
He also spoke about the unveiling of the new monument at Tower Knowe, which was witnessed by over 1,500, the unveiling of the Cornets Board in the vennel outside the Textile Towerhouse, as well as the unveiling of the new monument at Hornshole, and the tremendous work done on the Horse monu- ment.
Provost Marshall also mentioned the unveiling of a stained glass window showing two Common-Riding scenes in the museum.
After rising high in the saddle in his speech, the provost then handed the reins over to compere for the evening, Oliver Angus.
Oliver, in turn, made sure matters proceeded at full gallop.From introducing many exiles who were in attendance to his introductions of the performing artistes, the evergreen Oliver, who has compered the exiles’ reception for many, many years, was in top form.
Among exiles in abundance was Helen Aitkin, who was Cornet’s Lass to the late George Aitkin in 1951.
From Berkeley Vale, New South Wales, Australia, Helen was back in Hawick for the Common-Riding along with her daughter Catherine.
Reflecting on matters, Helen, who emigrated to Australia in 1951, told the Hawick News: “I’ve been back to Hawick several times over the years and it’s always lovely to come home. It’s been even lovelier this year because of the occasion.
“My late husband George would have absolutely loved it but I’m sure he will have been watching it all from up above.”
Hailing from Tenwantin, Queensland, Australia, was Jim Gibson.
Talking of his homecoming, Jim said: “Our family went away to Australia in 1950. I can’t remember anything about it, though, as I was only six months old. I’ve always looked on Hawick as my home, despite having been in Australia most of my life. I have family in Hawick, though, and I’ve managed to visit them a few times. A few years ago I came back with my son Kieran and he became a Mosstrooper. I’ve been planning this return for 11 years and have come with family including my grandson and this has been a big thrill for me.”
Also from down under was John Taylor.
Now residing in Toowoomba, Queensland, John said: “I met my wife Ingrid, who is Australian, in Hawick and we moved to Australia 25 years back. I have brothers and sisters in Hawick and come back to Hawick as much as I can. It’s always great to come back and meet folk and it’s been even better this time because of the 500 years occasion.”
Making the trip home to Hawick from Fergus, Ontario, Canada, was Ian Molloy and his wife Margaret.
Commenting on his return, Ian says said: “I was a frame-worker in Pringle’s before leaving Hawick to start up my own knitwear business on the West Coast. I then moved to Canada but I’m a Hawick man through and through and I’m even a Mosstrooper, which is something I’m very proud of.
“In the basement of my home in Canada I play Hawick CDs all the time and I sing along with them. My wife Margaret and I have had a great time as we’ve not only seen friends and family from Hawick but family from the United States as well.”
During the evening, community councillors Marion Short and Cameron Knox presented gifts to the Cornet and his Lass.
At the interval, supper was served with great charm by the Maids of Honour who were all stunningly beautiful.
Exiles and guests were entertained to the full by a wealth of local talent.
This long list consisting of the Saxhorn Band, plus performers Douglas Telfer, Alan Brydon, Deborah Lyons and David Finnie, Iain ‘Scocha’ Scott, Iain ‘Hightower’ Scott, Michael Aitken, Joyce Tinlin, Ian Landles, Rachel Inglis, Robert Scott, Bernie Armstrong, Keith ‘Chugger’ Brown and Ex-Cornet Ian Nichol. Anne Witherington was on piano.
Exile Douglas Scott made an excellent vote of thanks during which he described the night as “Teesh”.
The evening concluded with Teribus by the Big Four.