Teries rally round cornet after fall out over community council’s gift

A decision to donate money to charity rather than to buy gifts for this year’s Hawick Common Riding principals has been blasted a disgrace by townsfolk.

Hawick Community Council chairwoman Gillian Morgan.
Hawick Community Council chairwoman Gillian Morgan.

Hawick Community Council usually presents traditional gifts such as cuff links or jewellery to the cornet and lass during the annual common riding celebrations.

However, this year its four office bearers chose to revert from tradition and donate money in the principals’ names to the Borders Rape Crisis Centre charity instead.

At last week’s overseas dinner, community council chairwoman Gillian Morgan presented cornet’s lass Victoria Campbell with a letter explaining a donation would be made in the principals’ names to the charity.

Cornet Connor Brunton with his lass Victoria Campbell at this year's Bonchester rideout.

It is believed the donation is yet to be presented ot the charity, but will be to the amount of £60.

But that move struck a chord with townsfolk, who have since donated more than £1,000 to a crowdfunding appeal to provide an alternative gift, and who turned up in their hundreds to the community council’s meeting on Monday night.

There former vice-chairman Cameron Knox, who chaired an informal public forum after the meeting closed, explained: “This was done without the knowledge of the majority of the community councillors here.

“When I heard, it was the first time in my seven or eight years serving on this community council that I felt embarrassed, ashamed and angry that the cornet was given that gift by the community council on behalf of the townsfolk of Hawick.”

He added that he had no qualms with a donation to charity being made but suggested it should have been the principals’ choice and that a small gift should still have been presented to the pair.

Bert Wear, who set up the online fundraising page on Monday with the intention of raising £100, added: “We will not watch the cornet and lass and exiles being used as pawns for whatever they are trying to achieve.”

He added that any extra money raised would be donated to a charity of Connor and Victoria’s choice.

Cornet’s lass Victoria Campbell said: “We really do appreciate that you have donated.

“Mrs Morgan spoke to us at the overseas night. Her words were that the present was ‘a little bit different this year however I really do hope you appreciate the sentiment’”.

Mrs Morgan declined to comment after last night’s meeting, but did sent us a copy of the letter presented to the cornet’s lass last week.

It read: “It has become a happy tradition for Hawick Community Council to give the cornet and his lass a gift as a keepsake in memory of their time as Hawick Common Riding principals.

“As I’m sure you’ll be aware, traditions change with the times and gifts now take all sorts of new forms, from having a star named after you to sponsoring a snow leopard.

“We all know the Common Riding is a wonderful time of celebration for our town and this brings much joy and happiness to most families but sadly not for all.

“Statistics show there is an increase in domestic, physical and sexual abuse during festivals, common ridings and other celebratory events where alcohol is consumed.

“We believe everyone would like to see an end to abuse to men, women and children in our community.

“This year Hawick Community Council would like to present you and your Lass with a donation in your names to Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre.

“Your donation will help to promote awareness and understanding of the causes and prevention of domestic, physical and sexual violence and the mitigation of its effects.

“As this is a local organisation, your gift will be used in our community.”