Langolm’s new Cornet Stuart keeps it in the family

The 2017 Langholm Cornet Stuart Murray with his right and left-hand men Simon Tweddle and Jamie Fletcher.
The 2017 Langholm Cornet Stuart Murray with his right and left-hand men Simon Tweddle and Jamie Fletcher.

Stuart Murray has been elected as 2017 Langholm Cornet after winning a public vote by an emphatic majority last Friday night.

And for the 22-year-old student, the timing couldn’t be more poignant as he steps into the role exactly 60 years after his late grandfather Ian Murray.

“That certainly adds something to what will already be an amazing occasion,” Stuart said. “I’m most looking forward to representing the town, to be honest. It’s a great honour. My family are immensely proud.”

Stuart lives with his parents Leslie and Gillian and sister Shonagh at Townfoot, having just completed a degree in politics and history at Stirling University.

He was educated at Langholm Primary and Langholm High schools and currently works in Latimer’s furniture store. He hopes to return to university in Stirling for a postgraduate course in international conflict and co-operation this autumn.

An accomplished horseman, Stuart was one of the first members of the town’s young riders’ club and rode the Castle Craigs for the first time in 2008 and the common riding in 2009.

A good turnout saw 1,040 votes were cast at the Buccleuch Centre for the two candidates, Stuart and his rival Iain Ross Little, both of whom stood last year, with Stuart taking garnering 682 votes.

It was a busy evening for the town, with both pipe and town bands entertaining in the streets before the latter went on to play indoors at a well-attended public meeting.

There, common riding chairman Roger Maxwell welcomed the crowds and praised ex-cornet Simon Tweddle on the way he carried out his duties last year, supported by his right and left-hand men Jamie Fletcher and Dale Irving.

All the while, votes were being counted in the background before Mr Maxwell announced the result, tasking right and left-hand men Simon Tweddle and Jamie Fletcher to make their way to Townfoot to break the good news to Stuart and his family.

Stuart said: “It’s a nervous wait. I live at the opposite end of the town from where the vote is, so I was pacing about in the kitchen until Simon and Jamie came bursting through the door. It’s going to be a very exciting summer ahead.”

Stuart was greeted outside his house by neighbours, relatives and friends before he and his supporters visited each of the town’s hotels and clubs in turn. The evening culminated with a dance in the Buccleuch Centre, where Stuart was carried in on the shoulders of his fellow candidate Iain.

This year’s Langholm Common Riding takes place from July 25 to 30.