SATURDAY’s ride out to Denholm was hailed “an overwhelming success” with none of the violence and disorder which marred last year’s visit.
Such was the anger among residents in the aftermath of the 2010 event – traditionally the last equestrian venture of the Cornet and his mounted supporters before Hawick Common Riding – that Denholm Feuars and Householders Council (DFHC), which owns the village green, organised a public referendum in February.
Despite the shameful chaos of the previous year, when an estimated 3,000 people descended on Denholm, the villagers voted by 216 votes to 73 to extend an invitation to the Cornet for another year.
But explicit in that endorsement was a warning that the unseemly scenes, albeit perpetrated by the actions of a small minority, could not be repeated.
In return, the DFHC offered to put in extra toilets and litter bins on the green, deploy additional stewards and erect barriers across closes which were last year turned into public toilets by some drunken revellers.
“I suspect we will be out of pocket as a result of the new arrangements, but there is no doubt that it will be money well spent,” said DFHC secretary Sid Huddart. “With 12 toilets instead of six, more stewards, the barriers and sterling work by the police, the ride out was an overwhelming success.
“We also allocated space at the far [north] end of the green for gazebos which opened up the rest of the green for the public. This helped security and also allowed more people to see the Cornet and his cavalcade when they arrived in the village.
“I have already had a letter from a villager saying what a great improvement this year was compared to last year, but the credit must go to everyone involved, especially our volunteers.
“I personally did not hear of a single incident, compared to about 40 I was told about last year. The cold weather meant that the numbers were down on 2010, but that did not detract from a wonderful, happy day”
The police did, however, deal with a disturbance later on the evening, long after Cornet Michael Davidson and his supporters had returned to Hawick, arresting four males for alleged offences, including breach of the peace and assault. Fixed penalty tickets were issued and a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.
A police spokesman told us: “Since the weekend, our community officer, Brian Murray, has been taking soundings in the village and the response has been extremely positive.
“He has also discussed the event with the licensees and they have reported no problems on their premises and a very successful day all round.”
Cornet Davidson told us: “The ride out to Denholm with around 200 mounted supporters and the reception we received were truly memorable.
“I am glad to hear the day passed off successfully and was not spoiled by a small minority. I’d like to thank everyone who made it such a special occasion.”