IN TERMS of family connections with Lauder Common Riding, they surely don’t come any stronger than those boasted by Gregor Ker who received a rapturous reception in the town on Friday night when he was formally appointed Cornet for 2012.
The 21-year-old apprentice electrician, who is a single exam away from being time-served, admitted that his affinity with the Common Riding goes far beyond the normal.
For his father Ross Ker was Cornet in 1980 when his mum Joyce (nee Middlemiss) was Cornet’s Lass. Before that, Gregor’s grandfather Jim Middlemiss led the Common Riding in 1954, the year after his grandmother (and Jim’s wife) May Middlemiss was Cornet’s Lass. On top of that, Gregor’s uncle Ian Middlemiss was Cornet in 1979 and his first cousin Fraser Middlemiss (Ian and Beth Middlemiss’s son) was Cornet in 2010 and will therefore be Gregor’s Left-Hand Man during the week which culimates so gloriously on Saturday, August 4.
And Gregor’s Lass Sally Middlemiss shares the same dynastic link to the Common Riding, being Fraser’s sister and Ian and Beth’s daughter.
Educated at Lauder Primary and Earlston High, Gregor is apprenticed to Lauder electrician Ronald Wilson, himself an Ex-Cornet.
Gregor first followed on horseback in 2005 when Lee Wilson was Cornet, while his older sister Anneka was Cornet’s Lass last year to Iain Dick, who will be Gregor’s Right-Hand Man.
“It’s great that my cousin Sally will be my Lass,” said Gregor this week. “We both have the weight of family history on our shoulders and that we will be carrying on a great tradition, both in Lauder and in other towns, in the weeks and months ahead.”
On Friday, Gregor told Ian Fallas, chairman of the Common Riding Committee, of his immense pride at his appointment and pledged to carry out his duties to the best of his abilities for himself, his family and the people of Lauder.
“It sounds a cliche, but it really is a dream come true,” said Gregor, whose hobbies include badminton, golf and rugby.
As a back row forward he was a regular last season for Melrose 2nds and is now a feature of Earlston RFC’s East Division Two outfit.
Gregor’s mum Joyce said his appointment was another great honour for the family.
“Unfortunately, Gregor’s gran May passed away in February after a brave battle with cancer, but, before she died, she was told the news about her grandson,” she told us. “She was very happy and I know Gregor will be thinking about her when he leads the Common Riding.”
Sally said: “It’s a wonderful surprise – very exciting – and I can’t wait to be Cornet’s Lass.”
The 19-year-old, who is studying radiography at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, first followed Lauder Common Riding, along with her twin sister Jill, nine years ago and she still counts horse riding as one of her principal hobbies.
“On the odd occasion when my studies may stop me supporting Gregor at other common ridings and festivals, Jill will step into the breach,” said Sally.
Lauder Common Riding concludes a week of activities, including the Kirkin’, children’s sports, rideouts, a fancy day parade, socials, dinners and an open-air concert to round off the big day. The ball will again take place in the Lauderdale Hotel.