Gareth Renwick has never missed a Hawick Common Riding since he first followed on horseback aged just nine, and that’s not about to change any time soon.
Tonight, his lifelong dream came true as he was unveiled to the hundreds of supporters outside his home in the town’s Paterson Gardens as this year’s cornet elect.
The 22-year-old, a keen golfer and member of Hawick Golf Club’s darts team, said his appointment was “a dream come true” and that he “can’t wait to get going” with the busy summer ahead.
“It’s an honour and privilege to be given the opportunity,” he said.
“It’s a select few who get this chance, and it’s a badge of honour to be in that chosen few.
“I first followed behind cornet Jamie Turnbull in 2005 and have not missed a year since.”
A former Drumlanrig Primary and Hawick High School pupil, Gareth has worked as a mechanic at the town’s Barrie Knitwear mill since leaving school four-and-a-half years ago.
He is the first in his family to take on the role of cornet and will be supported throughout the common riding by proud dad Derek, who works for Scottish Borders Council, mum Susan, who works at the town’s William Lockie knitwear factory, and his two younger brothers, Fraser, 20, and Calum, 18.
“They are all very proud and looking forward to it all starting,” Gareth said.
“It will be a great experience for us all, not just me.
“There’s a wee bit of a feeling of nerves just now, but it’s excitement I feel more than anything else.
“I’ve something on almost every night from now until the end of the common riding, but I plan to make the most of it and am looking forward to experiencing a full summer and making new and lifelong friends around the other towns.”
By his side will be this year’s cornet’s lass, his friend Jenny Nichol.
The 22-year-old, of Bailleul Grove, Hawick, comes from a family steeped in common riding history and credentials.
Her father Ian ‘Moose’ Nichol and mother Lesley were cornet and cornet’s lass in 1984. Ian has also previously served as chairman of the common riding committee and is currently its master of ceremonies.
Jenny’s brother Ross carried the banner blue as cornet in 2012 and continues to follow on horseback each year.
The cornet’s acting father and acting mother for 2018 are John and Lynn Lyle.
John, 54, has followed the common riding for almost 42 years, following cornet Charlie McCrerie for the first time in 1975 and he is known in the town as a keen golfer and darts player.
He is a self-employed gardener and has been married to wife Lynn for 31 years. Lynn is a care worker at Hawick’s Deanfield Residential Home and has worked there for 31 years.
Their daughter Jorden, 24, has also followed on horseback in the past but will be supporting by car and foot this year, choosing to steer clear of the saddle as she is due to get married in September.
The pair, entrusted with making sure everything is done right and runs to time, say they are very much looking forward to the coming months.
John said: “I know Gareth as we play at the golf club and play darts together, and also through following the cornet.
“I am there to support Gareth, keep him right and generally be the auld heid.
“It was a total surprise to be asked, and it’s a huge honour.
“Lynn is really looking forward to the summer too.”
The common riding’s chief guest this year is Hawick and Scottish rugby legend Jim Renwick.
Jim, 66, who lives in Hawick’s Buccleuch Street with his partner Jane Gilligan, will address supporters throughout the common riding including at the colour-bussing and in St Leonard’s Hut.
Completing this year’s line-up are right-hand man Ali George, 2017’s cornet, with his lass Katy Moffat and left-hand man Euan Reilly with his lass Lisa McLean.