Cornet Gregor Hepburn has been hailed a true-hearted hero for the manner in which he completed his duties on Saturday in the face of atrocious weather conditions.
The 23-year-old more than earned the accolade of a brave young callant on the final day in his tenure, battling against gale-force winds and torrential downpours to ensure that proceedings were brought to a close in a fitting manner – the man-of-the-moment even walking the the racecourse with the Flag to give those hardy Teries who had braved the elements, one of their last glimpses of the Banner Blue.
The Cornet told the Hawick News: “It was really tough to ride with the Flag and at one point all three of us had our hands on it to hold it up. The horses weren’t able to ride round the Moor, but I didn’t think it was fair to all those people who were there to support us, so we walked round.”
Shocking weather had battered the Moor overnight, destroying and tearing up gazebos, closing the bottom beer tent and damaging the Provost’s/Acting Father’s tent. Conditions eased slightly when the popular Big Four, at the head of a cavalcade of around 120 horses, paid their respects at the war memorial, but the route to the Moor was altered slightly after the Flex as the wind and rain continued.
But the Cornet still had an uphill struggle to ensure the Standard arrived at the Moor in time-honoured tradition, and it is for such steely determination during his final hours at the helm of the Common-Riding for which he has been praised.
Common-Riding Committee chairman Ian Scott, whose team dealt with many issues which arose on Saturday to provide a safe environment, told the Hawick News: “One of my own highlights will be when the Cornet arrived at the Mair gates, cold, wet and inevitably tired, but when asked if he needed the Right and Left to take the Flag, he said no and moved his horse to the gate to complete the job he started.”
That sentiment has been echoed whole-heartedly by Provost Stuart Marshall, who added: “When you witnessed our Cornet carrying out his duties in severe gale-force winds, it was obvious we had one very special man at the front, without doubt a real hero.”
And just as time on this year’s Common-Riding began to run out, the sun finally shone on the righteous when Cornet Hepburn made his way to return the Flag and to complete a successful and honourable Common-Riding. He added: “I didn’t want it to end and it was extremely emotional for everyone, but I felt extremely proud.”
Acting Father Richie Lynn added: “The cheering suddenly stopped when we turned onto the High Street and I was obviously very upset, but I have enjoyed every minute.”
Left-Hand Man Chris Ritson added: “Saturday was very emotional. But all good things must come to an end, and my three years at the front are over. I count myself very lucky to have have so many happy memories I will never forget.”