SINCE following behind Cornet Rory Culton back in 1993, Michael Davidson has dreamed of the day he would be at the head of the cavalcade.
And so he would have been forgiven for thinking he was still in dreamland as he left the cheering townsfolk out on the High Street on Wednesday night and made his way up the town hall steps to be greeted as this year’s man of the moment at his congratulatory smoker.
There was no need to pinch himself, though, the loud bang of the gavel, those immortal words, “Gentlemen, the Cornet”, and the unmistakeable sound of the Drums and Fifes, signalled this was very much a reality for the 25-year-old. However, despite boasting a smile which beamed wider than the Slitrig throughout the duration of the evening, there was a feeling he was still coming to terms with the huge honour bestowed upon him.
After receiving his official badge of office from Common-Riding Committee chairman Stuart Marshall, he said: “Standing up here tonight is a lifelong dream of mine. It’s hard to think a year ago that I was one of the daft young boys sitting up the back of the hall.
“It’s all down to two men, Ex-Cornets Greg Easton and Jamie Richardson. Two great horsemen and two great Cornets. I will do everything in my power not to let you down and try to repay the immense faith and honour you have placed upon me.
“I’m sure this will be the start of another great year with special friendships.”
Giving his Toast to the Cornet just minutes earlier, Mr Marshall spoke highly of the latest Callant chosen to uphold the town’s customs and traditions.
He said: “Less than two hours ago you were elected to the highest office that this town can bestow on any young individual. You can now proudly boast to have just joined the illustrious ranks of the fower hunder and mair.”
Acting Father Grahame Nichol was another who confessed to have been somewhere around cloud nine since he was first asked into the role back in January.
From proposing the Toast to Gordon Jackson at this self same function just 12 months previously, Grahame was now on the receiving end as Ex-Cornet John Hope delivered the first of many Toasts to the Acting Father.
He said: “I stand here a very proud man indeed. A year ago I sat at this table waiting to give the Toast to the Acting Father. Never in my wildest of dreams could I have dreamt, a year on from that night, I would be back at this same table as Acting Father-elect for 2011.”
With the rum and milk flowing thanks to the staff from the Stags Head, there was no mistaking that another magic year was in the making.
And giving his Toast to the Common-Riding, rugby stalwart Terrence Froud said: “We have all been chosen and are very privileged to have been born in Hawick and to feel the emotions brought on by our traditions.
“To the outsiders it is different for them. They can’t feel the pride the first time they see the bonnie Banner Blue, or the first time you hear the Drums and Fifes on election night.
“It makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.”
The Toast to the Family was delivered by Ex-Cornet Ian Nichol and, in his reply, Michael Davidson (snr) admitted he was “the proudest dad in the world”.
Ex-Cornet Ben Graham heaped praise on Greg and Jamie in his Toast to the Right and Left and they responded with their typical passion and good humour.
In the esteemed company of many Ex-Cornets, as well as Silver Jubilee Cornet David Nuttall, official song-singer Michael Aitken got the entertainment under way for another year at the start of the night with a rousing rendition of Queen o’ a’ the Borders.
He was followed by a wealth of talent including Henry Douglas, Craig Rodgerson, Liam Berridge, Malcolm Grant, Kenny McCartney, Ian ‘Opera’ Scott, Gordon Jackson, Cammy Rudkin, Alan Brydon, John Scott and Doug Telfer. With Ian Landles accompanying on piano.
The evening was brought to a close with the traditional Teribus and Cornet’s Up. And as the crowds made their way back onto the High Street, they departed safe in the knowledge that the town is once again on the cusp of another memorable six weeks.