COMMON-Riding ribbons, stolen from The Horse almost 40 years ago, have been returned to the town – via Australia.
The ribbons mysteriously disappeared on the Saturday of the Common-Riding away back in 1972. But they were reunited with their rightful owner, Ex-Cornet Philip Murray, this week.
Marjorie Cleghorn, from a village just outside Wollongong, Australia, recounted the unbelievable tale this week. She told the Hawick News: “It was a chap called Dai Hodges, a Welsh rugby player who was in the British Navy, based at Rosyth.
“Because he had rugby playing friends in Hawick he and a few sailors came to the town and, by chance, it was during the Common-Riding.
“Well larricking on sailors, at 3am Dai climbed The Horse and took the ribbons.”
Mrs Cleghorn, whose late husband Ian was from Hawick and attended the high school, explained that Mr Hodges was racked with guilt the following day but was too afraid to admit to his crime, and so the ribbons went with him to Rosyth and then on to Australia when he emigrated some 30 years ago.
But she said: “I’m a church friend of him and his wife and in conversation he asked me if I knew where Hawick was. I replied that I sure did because my husband went to school there.
“That was how the conversation started and then, two years ago, Dai had a heart attack. He was in his mid-60s and I think his conscience got the better of him about these ribbons.”
Mrs Cleghorn’s god-daughter and her husband, John and Margaret Fleming, from Kelso, were out in Australia in December, when Mr Hodges presented them with the ribbons, asking for them to be returned to the town.
And a quick call to Ian Landles led to this week’s presentation, fittingly next to The Horse monument.
Ex-Cornet Murray said: “They were still there on the Friday, but I can’t remember seeing them again and it wasn’t until the Monday or Tuesday of the following week that I realised my ribbons were gone.
“It was disappointing because they’re taken down when The Horse is cleaned up and the ribbons are given to the Cornet, but I didn’t get mine.
“I can’t believe they’ve turned up now, 39 years later. I’m pleased that it wasn’t vandalism, it was just sheer devilment and the man’s conscience got the better of him.
“It’s an unbelievable story.”