With over 18 years’ experience in the saddle and 13 common ridings under his belt, there can be few Teries more suited to be this year’s Hawick Cornet than Connor Brunton.
The 24-year-old has followed the town’s cornet each year since 2005 and has been riding since the age of six.
And tonight, his lifelong dream came true as he was unveiled to hundreds of supporters outside his home in the town’s Rosebank Road as this year’s cornet elect.
The keen golfer, also a member of Hawick Golf Club’s darts team, said his appointment is “a massive honour” and something he could previously only hope would one day happen to him.
“You never actually believe that it will be you one day, you just hope,” he said.
“It’s exciting. I’m a little nervous when I start to think about it all, but it’s a massive honour and something I have always wanted to do.”
Connor first followed behind 2005 cornet Jamie Turnbull and has not missed a year since.
“I started learning to ride when I was about six or seven,” he added. “I have also done Melrose, Jed and Gala’s rideouts and all the Hawick ones over the years.”
A former Drumlanrig Primary and Hawick High School pupil, Connor has worked as a joiner with Waverley Housing with which he served his time as an apprentice, for the past eight years.
He will be supported throughout the common riding by proud dad Gus, a sales manager, and mum Lynn, a hairdresser in the town, as well as his two younger brothers, Kyle, 21, a joiner with Scottish Borders Housing Association, and Paul, 18, a student at Borders College.
But without doubt the biggest source of family support will come from his cousin Gareth Renwick as he will serve as his right-hand man.
“We learned to ride together and went to our first rideout together,” Connor said.
“We’ve been by each other’s side the whole way, to be honest.
“My mum and Gareth’s mum are sisters, so it’s really special for them too.”
Left-hand man Ali George is also no stranger to Connor, the pair having played golf together as members of the Vertish.
“You pretty much live every day with them during the common riding, so it’s good to be doing it with two folk I get along with so well,” Connor added.
Also by his side will be this year’s cornet’s lass, his girlfriend of five years, Victoria Campbell, and his trusty steed Russe.
Victoria, originally of Jedburgh, attended the town’s Trinity Primary and Hawick High schools before going on study primary teaching at Edinburgh University.
Her mum and stepdad Christine and Colin Mercer, live in Hawick, and dad and stepmum Alistair and Eileen Campbell stay in Tweedbank.
“Victoria can’t wait,” Connor added. “She’s in her last year studying primary teaching so she’s really looking forward to going round the schools to see the kids.
“She’s been riding longer than me, to be honest, so she’ll ride alongside me at other towns but will have her own duties as lass to carry out at our common riding.”
The cornet’s acting father and acting mother for 2019 are Alistair and Tracy Crawford, of Cinninghall, Cavers.
Alistair, known as Joe, 48, first followed cornet Ian Nichol in 1984, aged 14, to Roberton.
He runs his own groundworks firm, and it employs his wife of 19 years, Tracy, 42, as secretary.
Tracy, who trained to be a hairdresser alongside the cornet’s mother Lynn when they were in their teens, is also a keen rider.
The couple have two daughters – Robyn, 15, who hopes to work with horses, and Holly, 18, studying to become a PE teacher at Edinburgh University.
Both will follow on horseback this year.
Joe said: “It’s a huge honour to be acting father.
“It’s one of those things that it’s hard to put into words how you think it’ll be until you’ve done it, if that makes sense.”
The pair, entrusted with making sure everything is done right and runs to time, say they are very much looking forward to the coming months.