Pride and dignity abound as celebrations draw to a close

Raw emotion is etched into the faces of the Big Four as the Flag is handed back at the town hall
Raw emotion is etched into the faces of the Big Four as the Flag is handed back at the town hall

The wave of emotion shown by the Big Four and townsfolk on Saturday was more than a match for the torrential rain which fell on proceedings as they came to a close.

In stark contrast to Friday’s sunshine, glorious weather was replaced by downpours and cool winds – and although many tears fell along with the rain, nothing could wash away the pride, enthusiasm and dignity with which Cornet Ross Gibson and Acting Father Alan Gray had carried out their duties.

Earlier in the morning, the sun continued to shine on the popular Big Four as they led the ride to the war memorial, where large crowds witnessed the sombre wreath laying. And afterwards as the Cornet and an estimated 100 followers rode back to the Moor for the final time, the Flag continued to kiss the breeze o’ summer. But just as the weather changed, time also began to run out on a unique and hugely successful Common-Riding. And after leaving the Moor for the second time as the cavalcade made its way to return the Flag to Provost Stuart Marshall, emotions were running high.

The Cornet, who has proved to be an exceptional addition to the ‘fower hunder and mair’, told the Hawick News: “I had mixed emotions because I knew it was nearly all over, but I was happy everyone had a great weekend. It’s not just all about one person, the Common-Riding is special because everyone has a part to play in it.”

Indeed, Fither Gray, who has certainly played his part to perfection, admitted: “I felt proud and happy, but I think we cried nearly all the way down.”

And no-one more than Left-Hand Man Ross Nichol was experiencing the emotional rollercoaster, as he participated in the final minutes of his tenure. “Riding alongside the Banner Blue for the last time was hard to take in,” he stated. “But although feeling sad, there was also a feeling of pride.”

And with hundreds braving the rain to witness the farewell to the cherished colour, Ross added: “A memory that will never leave me is the cheer I received as I held our Banner for the last time.”

Cornet’s Lass Michelle Paxton added: “It was very emotional, but I tried to think that we have had a great time and were honoured to have this chance.”

And after dancing the reel at the Tower Knowe, the jubilant Big Eight headed back to the Moor to another hero’s welcome on stage at the top tent – where a mass singalong to Oasis classic ‘Wonderwall’ provided a final special moment in an exceptional five weeks.