‘Banner Blue’ flutters at exhibition opening

Hawick’s oldest living Cornet, Charles N. Whillans, Principal in 1948, to the newest, Chris Ritson, the 2013 Cornet, and many others between these years were among a gathering of over 200 at the official opening of ‘The Banner Blue’ exhibition on Sunday.

The proceedings got under way with a tune by three members of the Drum and Fife Band, playing ‘Teribus’.

Shona Sinclair, curator, then told those present that as well as the dedication of the staff, the exhibition would not have been possible without the help of a group of volunteers comprising Ian Lowes, Gerry Graham, Jean Muir, Jake Coltman, Ian Scott and Stuart Bouglas assisting in selecting and sourcing a wide range of material, and also the many members of the public who loaned items.

In officially opening the exhibition, Ian Scott, Common-Riding Committee vice-chairman, said: “This is a very important year for Hawick as we commemmorate the 500th anniversary of the action at Hornshole that gave us our Banner Blue and probably helped, over the generations, to keep our Common-Riding as alive and vibrant as we find it today.”

Following a brief history of what is known about what occurred at Hornshole 500 years ago and the involvement of a Cornet and flag in the annual festivities, Mr Scott called on official song-singer Michael Aitken to set the mood for the day and the rest of the spring and summer with a stirring rendition of ‘The Banner Blue’. This was ably carried out and well received by the gathering.

The assembled company, comprising Cornets, Lasses, Acting-Fathers and Mothers of yesteryear, as well as members of the public, were overheard reminiscing over Common-Ridings past as the exhibits were carefully studied amid the nostalgic atmosphere.

This year’s Common-Riding chief guest Henry Douglas said: “Tremendous, wonderful show. I’ll be back after the lambing’s finished!”

Commented ex-Cornet Rob Brydon: “Guid stuff!”, while ex-Cornet Bruce Mactaggart said: “A really good show, a lot to take in all at once, so must come back another time.” Ex-Cornet Philip Murray added: “A fabulous exhibition, must come back to do it justice.” Comprising arguably the finest and most comprehensive selection of Common-Riding memorabilia ever assembled, the display runs until August 10. On show in the Scott Gallery and complementing ‘The Banner Blue’ exhibition, is ‘Steal to Live and Steel to Die’, 50 paintings by Borders artist John F. Martin. These were also much admired.