Lauder nearly last, but not least, as Hagen leads celebrations

Cornet Hagen Steele gets proceedings underway on common riding morning.
Cornet Hagen Steele gets proceedings underway on common riding morning.

Almost last, but certainly not least, Lauder was the latest Borders town to stage its annual summer celebrations at the weekend.

And for this year’s Lauder Cornet, Hagen Steele, getting his hands on the royal and ancient burgh standard had been a long time coming.

A packed high street sees the cavalcade of almost 300 riders out of town on Saturday morning.

A packed high street sees the cavalcade of almost 300 riders out of town on Saturday morning.

All summer, the 21-year-old has faithfully supported every other lad, callant, cornet and laddie as they enjoyed their one shot at carrying their town’s flag, but on Saturday, Hagen’s patient wait was over and the turn to carry the standard was his.

He led a 270-strong mounted cavalcade, and its hundreds of supporters, through the celebration of Lauder’s ancient customs, concluding a week of social events, ceremonies and rideouts.

Hagen said: “The whole week couldn’t have gone any better, to be honest, and it certainly lived up to expectations.

“The support from my family, friends, girlfriend, lass, ex-cornets and the people of Lauder has meant so much.

Lauder Cornet Hagen Steele carries the burgh standard high as he leads the gallop on Saturday.

Lauder Cornet Hagen Steele carries the burgh standard high as he leads the gallop on Saturday.

“Right since election night, they have all been right behind me the whole way.

“Everybody did warn me that it would fly by and to savour every moment, but it really has flown by quicker than I could have imagined.

“I’ve done so much since being elected in May and the Threepwood ride and just had to wait patiently until it was my turn. It’s a special time of year, and it was even better on my week.”

On Saturday morning, Hagen accepted the burgh standard from common riding chairman Ian Middlemiss, and it was duly bussed by Mary Fallas and carried to the front of the cavalcade, where it was to remain as Hagen, accompanied by his right and left-hand men Greg Scott and Danny Simpson, led the cavalcade out to the town’s most westerly, and windy, point at the watering stane.

A 270-strong cavalcade followed cornet Hagen Steele on Saturday.

A 270-strong cavalcade followed cornet Hagen Steele on Saturday.

Here, a total of 46 ex-cornets gathered behind Hagen to sing Jeannie’s Black e’e and to toast late Lauder worthies.

Hundreds watched the charge up to the Burgess Cairn, where the cornet cast in a stone, before leading his cavalcade back into town to the war memorial service. Sophie Millar presented the cornet with a wreath as the Rev Rae Clark led the service to remember the men of Lauder killed in war.

At midday, his duties complete, Hagen returned the standard, unsullied and untarnished, infront of the town hall and acknowledged those who had supported him both on horseback and on foot throughout the morning.

That afternoon, he, his henchmen and cornet’s lass Ashleigh Scott visited the town’s pubs, shows and led dancing in the street as supporters followed behind, and through, Stow Pipe Band.

Lauder Cornet Hagen Steele with the standard.

Lauder Cornet Hagen Steele with the standard.

An ex-cornets’ smoker in the masons’ club and that evening’s ball at the Lauderdale Hotel brought the common riding to a formal close and Hagen’s long-awaited week of duties to an end.

“That was unbelievable,” he said. “I felt on top of the world all morning, especially getting back into the town after the job was done. It was a relief as I was nervous, obviously, but turning around and seeing everybody out, my family, the people of Lauder, the sun shining and the streets packed, it was unbelievable.

“It’s been out of this world, a really special time and an excellent day.”

Cornet Hagen Steele dips the flag at the war memorial.

Cornet Hagen Steele dips the flag at the war memorial.

Cornet Steele starts the parade along Lauder High Street on Saturday morning.

Cornet Steele starts the parade along Lauder High Street on Saturday morning.