THE BEST OF A’

At Large: Over 350 horses led by Cornet Michael Davidson ride out across the Marches during the 2011 Hawick Common Riding.  10th June 2011. Picture by JANE BARLOW
At Large: Over 350 horses led by Cornet Michael Davidson ride out across the Marches during the 2011 Hawick Common Riding. 10th June 2011. Picture by JANE BARLOW

IT may have been a year that wasn’t blessed with sunshine but after a hugely succesful weekend of celebrations, for thousands of Teries there is definitely ‘nae toon among them a’ can wi oor toon compare’.

Townsfolk did what they do best last weekend and rallied round their Cornet and cherished traditions as they were once again filled with pride – and the odd downpour certainly did nothing to hamper the crowds or support for Michael Davidson. In the 25-year-old, Hawick has boasted a delighted Cornet who has been praised throughout for conducting his duties in an exemplary manner. With a quiet dignity and broad smile, he has led large ride-outs and been blessed with great turnouts at every function, concert and gathering. And for the man of the moment – dubbed a ‘gentle giant’ by his friend and Left-Hand Man Jamie Richardson – the honour bestowed upon him is still sinking in.

“It’s been the best experience of my life and if I could go back and start again I definitely would,” Cornet Davidson told the Hawick News. “The support I got from townsfolk made it all the more special, and I thank everyone hugely for that.”

And that’s a sentiment shared by Acting Father Grahame Nichol, who has endeared himself to all with a humble pride and good cheer throughout. Attempting to sum up his momentous experience, he said: “There are no words to describe what has been the time of my life, and it is going to take a bit of time to think through. Even now the kindness of everyone still astounds me. The Common-Riding is a magnet which brings everyone together, and I’ve loved every minute.”

In the remainder of The Big Four Hawick has had two popular young men in Right-Hand Man Greg Easton and Left-Hand Man Jamie, both of whom have continued to be a credit to their town and carried out their duties with great spirit and friendliness.

And in the Lasses, the grey auld toon has had four bright-eyed daughters who have been equally deserving of praise, with Cornet’s Lass Kirsteen Hill, Right-Hand Lass Stacey Brand, Left-Hand Lass Laura Peden and Acting Mother Wendy Nichol all displaying down-to-earth elegance and unfaltering smiles which have won everyone’s affections.

Cornet’s Lass Kirsteen, who has worn stunning outfits each week, told the Hawick News: “I’ve had the best six weeks of my life and it’s something I will never forget. I have done things I never thought I could, and with everyone’s support managed to complete my duties the best I could.”

And praise for the conduct of the Principals is certainly unanimous, with Provost Ron Smith, who made his successful debut this Common-Riding, stating: “The Big Eight have been such a team and worked so well with each other. I can’t speak highly enough of the qualities they have brought to the occasion, and it was an immense privilege to be involved.”

A feeling echoed by Common-Riding Committee chairman Stuart Marshall, who said: “The Big Eight were quite simply outstanding in their roles. They carried out their duties with such distinction and the town owes them a huge debt of gratitude.”

And although the three special days were blessed with so many highs, Mr Marshall added: “The Friday was a day which I will never forget. To chair the Friday Hut for the first time was a wonderful experience, the atmosphere indescribable. And I was delighted with the way the Mair went on both days, we were unbelievably lucky on Friday with the weather, and the rain on Saturday didn’t dampen spirits.”

The contagious magic of the Common-Riding and first-class conduct of all involved also touched the heart of chief guest Malcolm Murray and his wife Muriel. “Everything about the few days was wonderful and by the end we felt part of the Common-Riding team, we were so close and so welcomed on board by everyone,” he told the Hawick News.

“It was an honour to be allowed to participate in the Colour-Bussing, and the flowers which Muriel received are now prominently displayed here at home. But it is hard to pick out individual items which were special, because they all are. It was a truly unique experience, and the quaich which I was presented with at the end from the people of Hawick will be treasured for the rest of my life,” he added.

And for Left-Hand Man Jamie Richardson, as his term in office came to an end, he can be forever satisfied with a job well done. He stated: “It’s impossible to put into words what the last three years have meant to me. But I’ve had a great time, met lots of special people, sampled all the hospitality Hawick has to offer and enjoyed every moment with my Lass by my side. I was just honoured to get the chance, and I’ll probably never stop thanking those folk who made it happen. I hope I did them proud.”

His equally dedicated Lass Laura added: “This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I would like to thank everyone for all their support over the last three years.”

As the dust settles on another Common-Riding and townsfolk reflect on the memories, cheers and tears of another year, for one man it will forever remain the best of a’. Cornet Davidson added: “It will take a while to sink in, it all went by so fast. But in The Big Eight I’ve definitely made friends for life.”