Supporters raise the roof for town’s green-jacketed hero

Cornet Gregor Hepburn addresses fellow Teries in the Hut. Picture by Stuart Cobley
Cornet Gregor Hepburn addresses fellow Teries in the Hut. Picture by Stuart Cobley

Even before the 310 horsemen arrived at St Leonards Hut last Friday morning the place was buzzing.

The tables were littered with bottles, mainly Skipper Rum, bowls and ashets of curds and cream, glasses and crates of beer.

Officials and guests waited with nervous anticipation etched on their faces and as the time approached, the buzz heightened and the anticipation reached new levels.

This was it, this was the Big Pictur in all its pomp and passion, and when the first of the horsemen arrived to take their seats, followed a few minutes later by the Big Four, bailies and other officials, the roof was ‘ver ner’ lifted from this most cherished of buildings.

For what seemed an age, rapturous applause, cheering and table banging were the order of the day and by the time Honorary Provost Stuart Marshall quietened the passions stirred from deep within, this Friday Hut was guaranteed to be straight from the top drawer.

The provost then called on official Common-Riding Song Singer Michael Aitken to favour the company which he duly did with the blistering Hail to the Banner and, keeping to the usual format, this was quickly followed by Alan Brydon with the hugely popular The Bonnie Banner Blue.

Provost Marshall introduced Golden Jubilee Cornet Robert Pringle who said that in Cornet Hepburn the town had chosen an excellent young man to carry out the duties expected of him, and added: “The town has picked a true horseman. He first followed behind Cornet Greg McLeod in 2003 on his pony Tonto and over the past few weeks I have watched him grow into the role. This has been a very big year for him, not only is he standing here as Hawick Cornet but he has also qualified as a vet. He has carried out his duties admirably.”

Ex-Cornet Pringle spoke briefly about his own term of office and how he had enjoyed the past few week of his golden year.”

The irrepressible Keith ‘Chugger’ Brown was next to hit the high notes with The Mosstroopers Song, and this was followed by Provost Marshall’s now familiar words: “Gentlemen, the Cornet.”

The applause, cheering, whistles and banging lasted what seemed like an eternity and despite several false starts, Cornet Hepburn was eventually able to start, and his speech was certainly worth waiting for: “Ex-Langholm Cornet Billy Young once described Hawick Common-Riding as a pimple that starts in early May, growing and growing into a muckle festering plook and bursting in all its septic glory on Common-Riding morning.

“Well, gentlemen, Ex-Cornet John Hope popped that plook this morning when he handed me the Bonnie Banner Blue.

“To stand in this hallowed Hut this morning as Cornet 2015 is truly beyond words. The emotion I have experienced would put your hair on end and it flows through the blood of every true Teri – where else would you rather be, gentlemen?

“I said yesterday morning that I was on cloud nine. I had no idea of what I would feel like today but if there is a cloud ten I am well and truly on it and still going up.

“Last night, the Bonnie Banner Blue was bussed by another of Hawick’s bright-eyed daughters. Lois, you did your Cornet, yourself, your family and the townsfolk of Hawick proud. Well done Lois, just sit back and enjoy yourself now. You deserve it.”

And Cornet Hepburn described what the Colour-Bussing meant to him and the folk of Hawick, adding: “The Colour-Bussing last night was a first-class ceremony and we were treated to a great speech by chief guest Michael Scouler, and I hope you and your family have a great weekend.

Cornet Hepburn thanked both Provost Marshall and Golden Jubilee Cornet Robert Pringle for their support before adding a tribute to his late brother Adam: “Before I leave here today I just want to say that you will have to forgive me if on the way to the Moor I am out in front on my own with my thoughts. My brother Adam had a lot of pals who are here today and I am sure he will be looking down with a bottle of green in one hand and a milky rum in the other. He will be at the front alongside me and I hope I have done him proud so far.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support over the past few weeks, it has been brilliant. Have a great Common-Riding.”

And at that, the noise threatened to shake the building from its foundations, with John Tait ensuring proceedings continued in rousing fashion when belting out We’ll follow oor Cornet.

Provost Marshall introduced Ian Anderson who proposed the toast to the Common-Riding, before the provost toasted the guests, and Ex-Cornet Ian Nichol entertained the audience with Up wi Auld Hawick.

Chief Guest Reverend Michael Scouler replied, and Silver Jubilee Cornet Colin Murray toasted the 2015 Acting-Father and lifelong friend Richie Lynn with some good craic and ribbing.

The Fither gave a suitable reply, after which the Drums and Fifes played everyone out of the Hut.

Michael Aitken then rounded off proceedings as tradition dictates in front of St Leonards farmhouse with the singing of Teribus.