“Here we go again, the start of the biggest and best weekend in the Teri calendar. And what better way to kick it off than having a right time of it in the Hut.”
A jubilant Cornet Ross Gibson’s opening salvo at last Thursday morning’s Hut had just ratcheted up the anticipation factor ahead of what was already shaping up to be a memorable few days in the town’s long and distinguished history.
But as well as the singing of songs and sharing of nips with like-minded folk, there was a very serious side to the forthcoming celebrations, emphasised the Cornet.
“We’re here to remember those brave men who stood up to the English 500 years ago, and against all the odds, routed them and took their colour, giving our town its greatest triumph. These brave callants should never be forgotten, gentlemen.”
And with Cornet Gibson at the helm of this year’s Common-Riding, there can be no doubt that he will have ensured those revered young men from centuries ago, who battled so courageously in the name of their town, will have been uppermost in the thoughts of supporters over the big weekend,
Also touching on this year’s landmark anniversary when giving the toast to the Cornet, Common-Riding vice-chairman Ian Scott talked of the “extra significance” attached to the role of Cornet in 2014, it being the 500th anniversary of the Flag being captured by the callants that Ross now represents.
And alluding to the Cornet’s soaring popularity, Mr Scott said: “Cornet, the way you have handled yourself so far in your campaign has endeared you to everyone, and the record support you have developed over the weeks at the ride-outs, functions, and even on the pavements, shows that you have won over all the Hawick folk, young and old. You have done a superb job so far, so just keep on doing what you’re doing.”
Still also riding high in the popularity stakes is last year’s Acting Father Stuart Hunter, who ran the rule over this year’s incumbent Alan Gray in the toast to the Acting Father, and Mr Hunter had nothing but the highest of praise for the 2014 Acting Senior Magistrate.
“I’d like to congratulate the Cornet on his choice of Acting Father, who will help and guide him, and will be a true ambassador for Hawick in his big year in office.”
Recalling Alan’s badge presentation at the Thursday night Hut the previous week, Mr Hunter turned to the Fither and said: “I witnessted you being presented with your badge of office, and it was etched all over your face what being Acting Father really means to you.
“Since Picking Night, that muckle smile at every ride-out, dinner, smoker or concert, has never left your face. Your enthusiasm towards young and old in the town has been just brilliant.
“You are not only a true credit to your Cornet and family and friends, you are a true credit to the townsfolk of Hawick.”
A typically emotive response from Acting Father Gray began by him admitting he simply could not explain the range of emotions he had experienced over the last few days.
“The joy of riding into Denholm with hundreds of folk cheering us was brilliant, to the sombre mood at Hornshole where we paid our respects, to the feeling of joy again when I led the second marrried men’s Chase of 2014.”
Alan went on to describe the “emotional sledgehammer” that hit him during the visit to the homes and hospitals. “It made me realise even more how privileged we are. The joy we brought to those people was very humbling and will be one of my lasting memories of 2014.”
Throwing the spotlight on the Common-Riding’s far-reaching inclusiveness, the Fither added: “The Cornet and I want to make it clear that it is everybody’s Common-Riding. It does not belong to not one individual but to us all.
“And we all have a responsibility to ensure that our Common-Riding goes from strength to strength and to protect it from the quirky lairds that might want to shape it their way.
“Let us cherish the Common- Riding and never take if for granted.”
As well as toasting the Cornet, Common-Riding Committee vice-chairman Ian Scott chaired proceedings in fine style, and had a few warm words for 60-year Cornet Bruce Mactaggart.
Also well worthy of the compliments they received were Thursday morning’s illustrious array of singers – all of whom raised the roof for the Common-Riding cause – namely official song-singer Michael Aitken, Ex-Acting Father Malcolm Grant, Alan Brydon, Ex-Cornet Ian Nichol, Charlie Marshall, Iain ‘Hightower’ Scott, Hut debutant Euan Robson, Iain ‘Scocha’ Scott, Keith ‘Chugger’ Brown, Ronnie Tait, Bernie Armstrong and John Tait. Hut stalwart Ian Landles was on top form on the piano.