THERE were three huge thunder-like rumbles last Thursday night heard over Hawick.
However, there wasn’t a cloud to be had in the beautiful blue sky. The noise was firstly the rousing reception given to the principals as they entered the Hut for the first of their three visits this year; then for Cornet Michael Davidson as he addressed his first Hut; and finally for Grahame Nichol as he spoke at his Hut after being officially appointed Acting Senior Magistrate for 2011.
And their smiles were as bright as the early evening sunshine and the welcome as warm.
After an exhilarating Chase on his trusty steed Jock, Acting Father Grahame admitted he was on cloud nine.
He said: “In no time at all we were up at the Roadhouse. Me and my Cornet, along with our Right and Left, exchanged a few words and then I was left in front to lead the married men on the Thursday Night Chase 2011.
“It doesn’t get any better than that.
“Heading along Rosebank Road, my heart had definitely stepped up a gear. But reaching the top of Haggis Ha’, to see the townsfolk lining the Vertish Hill, the old ticker went into overdrive.
“I had a look round to all my married mounted supporters and by the smiles on their faces and the thumbs up signs, I had the best support a man could wish to have.
“As I made my way to the bottom of the hill I had a wee word with Jock and gave him a pat down the neck, then I was given the green light to go.
“The next couple of minutes are something words wouldn’t get near to explaining how I felt. Absolutely electric.
“When I got up through the trees and was coming to the crossroads to be greeted by faces that had as big a smile on them as mine it was a great example of how Teries come together at this time of year.”
Teries had certainly come together for the first pilgrimage to the Hut, which was full to bursting by the time the riders joined the assembled gathering.
On what was his first trip as the town’s man of the moment though, Cornet Davidson was quite happy to step out of the limelight as he showered praise on his Acting Father.
In response to his toast by Ex-Acting Father, and chairman for the evening, John Hope, he said: “For tonight I’ll take a back seat because I know there’s a man in here who’s even more proud than me.
“Fither, or Nichol of Hawick to some folk, this is your big night and I know that since my election, you’ve been waiting patiently on this arriving.
“Nobody deserves this honour more than you.”
In proposing the toast to the Acting Father, Common-Riding Committee chairman Stuart Marshall was another who spoke in glowing terms of Grahame, before pinning his badge of office to his lapel.
He said: “History quite rightly reminds us all of the long line of Cornets who have gone before, but equally we must never forget that there is also a long line of Acting Fathers, whose role in our Common-Riding must never be underestimated.
“Grahame Nichol is indeed a worthy addition to that long line of Acting Fathers.”
As Acting Senior Magistrate it is Grahame’s job, along with his Cornet Michael, to inspect our common and see that our ancient boundaries are free from rogue invaders.
While that may be symbolic these days, Ex-Acting Father Robert Charters warned that our common land must continue to be protected.
In his toast to the Common-Riding the current Callants Club president alluded to the controversial plans by Scottish Borders Council to lump sums of money from Common Good Funds across the Borders into a single investment strategy. He warned: “Hawick folk have to stand together on this issue. Lands were given to the town centuries ago and they’re a huge part of our history.
“We can’t stand back now and allow ownership to disappear into a fund that allows Scottish Borders Council officials to play pass the parcel and hide and seek with what is our historical legacy.”
As the evening progressed, with hundreds outside, Silver Jubilee Cornet David Nuttall presented his Acting Father Bert Wear with a walking stick, while in time-honoured tradition, Ex-Acting Father Graeme Paxton ordered up the curds and cream.
Jake Hope, from the Office Bar, who had kept the company well watered throughout with help from his hard-working staff, replied.
No visit to the Hut is complete without the entertainers and once again, Hawick’s burgeoning talent didn’t disappoint. Songs were heard from Doug Riddell, Michael Aitken, John Tait, Graeme Tinlin, Alan Brydon, Keith ‘Chugger’ Brown and Ronnie Tait.