THERE was a touching moment on Saturday afternoon as the town’s Common-Riding was approaching its conclusion.
Cornet Michael Davidson and his Acting Father Grahame Nichol rode ahead of the cavalcade after leaving the Moor for a second day. It was just at the top of Crumhaugh Hill where Fither Grahame stretched his arm across and joined in the carrying of the ancient Banner Blue.
Amid the unrelenting rain it was a poignant time for the two men who had carried out their duties with great pride, enthusiasm and dignity.
Grahame said: “The cavalcade let us go on in front and I put my hand onto the Flag as well. It looked like we were both carrying it and it was nice to be given that chance because it gave us ten minutes to ourselves for a blether and a time for reflection.”
There were also tears as the most unbelievable six weeks of their lives was all too quickly coming to an end.
What had began as a sombre start, paying their respects at the war memorial in Wilton Lodge Park, ended on an equally emotional note. And for Cornet Davidson, who has proven a worthy addition to the ‘fower hunder an’ mair’, there were mixed emotions as the Flag he had dreamed of carrying all his life was given back to Provost Ron Smith ‘unsullied and unstained’.
He said: “When I was handing back the Flag I was very sad it had all come to an end, but at the same time I was proud of what I’d done and I knew I had given it my best shot.”
Each member of the Big Four took turns to bid farewell to the cherished colour as hundreds braved the wet weather in one last show of support for this year’s Principals.
And then it was a return to the provost’s chamber where, away from public eyes, the enormity of the occasion really hit home.
Acting Father Grahame said: “The tears were flowing down my face when we were on the balcony and when we went inside we all shed a few tears. The Cornet was pretty upset, but as I said to him: ‘We’ve been and we’ve done it and we’ve had the absolute time of our lives’.”
Cornet’s Lass Kirsteen Hill, who was another beautiful bright-eyed daughter, added: “When it came to an end I was upset but we still have a great summer in front of us when we go to other towns’ Common-Ridings and festivals.”
For Left-Hand Man Jamie Richardson and his Lass Laura Peden, Saturday marked the end of their term of office.
Paying tribute to the couple, Cornet Davidson said: “It was sad seeing Jamie and Laura end their three years, but they’ve done a great job.”
While Jamie added: “I always think that I am so privileged to be in the position I was.
“Probably the most gutting part is we have to wait until next year to live the best six weeks of the year out again.”
After dancing the reel at the Towerknowe the Big Eight then headed back up the Moor where they received another hero’s welcome, taking their place on stage at the top tent and, quite rightly, savouring the occasion after a job incredibly well done.