HAWICK is bursting with passion as the build-up to the Common Riding continues.
Hearts are beating just that wee bit faster and both adults and children are counting the number of sleeps to Hawick’s greatest day.
Outflung spots have been visited during the preliminary rides and the favoured spot of Mosspaul has been visited not once, but twice.
Saturday sees the final of those early mounted excursions – that favourite visit to Denholm.
And then for Cornet Ross Nichol the magical week that he has dreamed of since a child will be here.
The 22-year-old printer will be sure to savour every moment. He will have had sound advice from his dad Ian who carried the cherished Banner o’ Blue in 1984.
And beside him – if not in the saddle – with just as much pride and dignity will be Cornet’s Lass Gillian Smith.
Both their families are steeped in the traditions of Hawick and its Common Riding, and both young people are worthy ambassadors of the grey auld toon. And lending support will be the Acting Father and Mother, Iain and Andrea Huggan.
Common Riding Friday is June 8, but there is much happening before that momentous moment. Tonight there are the Acting Father and Cornet’s Chases up the Nipknowes to The Hut – St Leonards – where the curds and cream will be ordered in readiness for the Riding of the Marches. This is the end of the preliminaries.
After Denholm has been visited on Saturday there’s the Kirkin’ of the Cornet on Sunday in Trinity Church at 11am, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hornshole Memorial at 3pm. Chases follow to St Leonards at 6.30am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wednesday sees a reception for exiled Teries who have returned for the Common Riding. The Thursday Hut chase musters in Backdamgate.
By Thursday the passion in the town is obvious and at 6pm the Halberdiers and the Drum and Fife Band set off from the Kirk Wynd to signal – at last – the start of the Common Riding proper.
Tickets for the Colour Bussin’ are much coveted. Here there is much singing and dignity as Gillian ties the ribbon to the Banner Blue, the banner that commemorates 1514 when the youth of Hawick surprised a group of English raiders at Hornshole and captured their banner.
Here too, will be chosen words by this year’s Chief Guest – former Wilton Primary and Hawick pupil Douglas Scott, now the professor of physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. And at 8.20 Cornet Nichol will tie ribbons on the 1514 Memorial, known to all as The Horse.
Drum and Fife will rouse the townsfolk at 6am with the Snuffin’ at the site of the Auld Brig at 6.15. Breakfasts follow and then: 8.25 singing the Old Song; 8.45 procession begins; 9.25 Acting Father and Cornet’s Chases; 9.45-11am speeches and singing at The Hut; 11.45 riders head for the Marches with sod cutting at 11.50; 12.30 Cornet arrives at racecourse (first race 12.50); 4pm Cornet leaves The Mair to dip the flag staff in the Cobble Pool; 5pm flag displayed at the Town Hall. Dinner and ball follows.
Saturday sees a sunrise visit to the ancient Moat with wreaths laid at the War Memorial followed by more horse racing.