Matt’s the one as town hits TV screens

Matt Baker and Pudsey Bear arrive in Hawick
Matt Baker and Pudsey Bear arrive in Hawick

THE One Show presenter Matt Baker was given a rousing welcome when he arrived in Hawick on a rickshaw live on television on Friday night, before enjoying a bath at a local B&B and a Chinese takeaway.

A huge crowd gathered at the Heart of Hawick’s civic space to welcome the BBC anchorman at the end of the first day of a cycle challenge in aid of Children in Need – and under the glare of the spotlights and cameras, Teries of all ages did the town proud.

Hawick Pipe Band entertained ahead of the programme’s 7pm slot, and Radio Borders DJ and Hawick man Richard Thorburn warmed up the crowd which had packed around the barriers in eager anticipation of a five-minute live broadcast to the nation. And on the cue of the crew, huge cheers greeted the thrilled presenter as he cycled up Silver Street and crossed the finish line in front of the Heritage Hub.

A spokesperson for The One Show told the Hawick News: “The Hawick crowd was electric. As it was Matt’s first day he wasn’t sure what to expect, but the Heart of Hawick was the perfect venue for his first stop and there was an amazing amount of people there.”

Hawick Saxhorn Band also flew the flag for the town with an impressive rendition of Take That’s Let It Shine – to coincide with Gary Barlow being a guest in the London studio – as the The One Show frontman spoke to members of the crowd, including Hawick Cycling Club member Tosh Scott.

Explaining the conversation both on and off camera, Tosh said: “We chatted about the Borders countryside and Matt said he didn’t realise it was so hilly. He thought it was a beautiful place to cycle but we discussed how hard a ride it had been for him that day, and it would have been, especially from Newtongrange to Innerleithen. He would have been absolutely exhausted, but he didn’t show it.”

Tosh added: “I think his achievement is a feat of gladitorial magnitude.”

Hawick Cycling Club also donated £150 to Children in Need, and the following morning at 6am when the presenter set off for Hexham, he was accompanied to Bonchester Bridge by club member Mick Brown.

That was after getting a good night’s sleep at the Lux Bed and Breakfast in Teviotside Terrace, where proprietor Alan King welcomed Matt and four others, including the cameraman and his personal assistant. “They were all really nice people and I was delighted to have them,” stated Alan.

The presenter’s crew purchased bags of ice at Morrisons for his bath to ease his muscles, and walked along to JJ Express to pick up takeaway meals. Alan added: “I was up at 4am to make breakfast the next day, with Matt having porridge which he said he really enjoyed, and said he’d like to come back.”

Other crew and entourage members stayed at Hizzy’s Guest House and the Elm House Hotel.

And Provost Ron Smith, who officially welcomed Matt to the town off camera, says he is pleased with how the event portrayed Hawick. “There was a really good crowd and the welcome which the town gave Matt came across very well”, he commented.

Provost Smith also ensured Matt would have a further reminder of his visit, arranging with Pudsey Bear for a tin of Hawick Balls to be planted inside the locker on his rickshaw.

Councillor Smith added: “I have always wanted the civic space to be the focus of such events and I think on Friday night, with the buildings all lit-up, it was a great spot and the town put on a good display.”

The One Show spokesperson concluded: “The response the people of Hawick gave Matt certainly lifted his spirits. The whole crew and everyone concerned was thrilled with the welcome we received in Hawick.”