Euan Reilly had no trouble summing up what it had meant to him to be this year’s Hawick Cornet.
“It meant everything to me,” said the 23-year-old, a joiner by trade.
“I never thought I was going to get the chance to be cornet in the first place, so to have been given the amazing opportunity to experience it all means I’m chuffed to bits, over the moon,” he said just minutes after dancing the traditional reel with his supporters and lasses outside Towermill to mark the end of 2016’s Hawick Common Riding on Saturday.
It has been a busy six weeks for Cornet Reilly since his appointment back at the beginning of May, culminating in the common riding’s main ceremonies last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cornet led the official mounted cavalcade back into the town to wind up the annual event.
And as he approached the town hall for the last time to return the flag he had borne with such distinction and pride throughout the common riding, it was clear from his fight to keep his emotions in check how much it really had all meant to Euan.
“Proud, so very proud, that’s how I feel right now,” he said. “Obviously, you get the few folk that doubt you. I just had to prove them wrong, which hopefully I did.
“Highlights for me were all the huts and mairs. They were fantastic experiences.”
Asked if he had any advice for his successors as cornet, Euan replied: “ Just go for it and don’t hold back. You’ll make memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
It was also an emotional moment on Saturday for his left-hand man Ross Gibson as he came to the end of three years as a principal.
“It’s a bit of a strange feeling today, to be honest,” he said. “A lot of people would love to do it and be Cornet, so I was delighted when I got the opportunity.
“The last three years’ duties have been very time-consuming, but it’s been everything I always wanted to do, and as it was coming to an end, I found it very hard and pretty emotional.”
Common riding chairman Ian Scott, in his second year in office, had nothing but praise for all those involved from the Cornet on down. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s not just the common riding committee,” he said. “There is a host of other organisations and clubs, like the Mosstroopers Club, which all play a vital part in making the common riding such a success each year.
“Of course, being involved as chairman is not the same as riding it, but that is made up for with the massive feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing the common riding go so well and everyone have such a great time.”
And while the weather for the main ceremonial days was not as sunny as earlier in the week, Mr Scott said it was better than what had been forecast.
“I think we were very lucky with the actual weather conditions because it had been predicted to be much worse,” he said.
Friday had dawned overcast and cloudy, but that could not dampen the almost-palpable excitement in the air.
A 281-strong mounted cavalcade followed the Cornet to the Nipknowes for the main chase of the Common Riding and to ride the marches of the burgh’s common.
Saturday’s events and rideout also went off without a hitch, and a sizeable crowd lined High Street later in the afternoon to witness the Cornet return the flag unsullied and untarnished.
Look out for our eight-page Hawick Common Riding pullot in the middle of this week’s paper.