AMONG the many speeches and toasts to be heard over this Common-Riding it was the words of a Galashiels man that will live long in the memory.
Dyed-in-the-wool maroon Ritchie Gray, a former Gala coach, spoke with great pa ssion about his town’s bitter rival when he delivered the toast to the Common-Riding at last Friday night’s 1514 dinner.
He said: “The young men who went bravely to protect their town at Hornshole, to defend their rights and common, their traits are there for all to see.
“They are always there within you all, they just become slightly stronger within this week you’re about to enter.
“I am looking around this hall tonight: ex-Cornets, ex-Acting Fathers, men that have given great service on organising committees linked with the Common-Riding. Singers, followers, will all have different thoughts about the Common-Riding and what it means to them. Many memories, feelings and emotions, that will be personal to each individual in this room. The feelings, past memories, the characters. Teries that you’ve followed with and those who are sadly no longer with us.”
The ovation he received at the end proved that this Gala man will be welcome in Hawick any time.
In what is the last function of the three principle clubs in the town, the 1514 Club dinner, under the presidency of Andrew Johnson, was another memorable night, during which a special presentation was made to legendary local singer Viv Sharp, who was granted honorary membership of the club.
Mr Johnson said: “There’s some folk you can call singers and others you can call entertainers. I would call Viv an entertainer. From Burns, to I Like Auld Hawick, to I’m Still in Love With You, he’s Mr Versatility.”
Viv, who had already favoured the company with a song, modestly said: “This is very much appreciated. I don’t think I’ve done that much for everyone. Thanks to the 1514 Club and all its members.”
Full report and more photographs in Thursday’s paper.