Hawick in mourning for former cornet Chuck Whillans

Hawick is mourning the loss of a common riding stalwart after the death of its oldest living cornet at the age of 94.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 3:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 9:51 pm
Former Hawick cornet Chuck Whillans.

Charles Whillans, better known as Chuck, carried the banner blue 70 years ago and was often referred to as Mr Common Riding.

He was acting father to George Peden Jr in 1967, master of ceremonies for 18 years, chaired the hut for provost Myra Turnbull and was president of the Mosstroopers and callants’ clubs.

However, it was leading the cavalcade back in 1948 that he called the “best experience of my life”.

During his working career, Chuck was also respected for carrying on his family’s cashmere business, Chas N Whillans.

Speaking to the Hawick News eight years ago, he said: “Since I was a laddie, I have always loved the common riding and horses.

“My mother’s cousin Tom Darling was cornet in 1900, and I always wanted to be cornet. My acting father was George Peden, the butcher. He was much more than an acting father, though. He was more like a real father.”

Apart from being an acting father, Chuck was also actual father to a cornet in 1985, when his son Ian wore the green jacket and carried the banner blue.

He is survived by wife Nan and sons Alister, Donald and Ian.

Tributes have been paid to his years of service.

Former Hawick councillor John Ross Scott, now living on Orkney, said: “Chuck was a close family friend and was always supportive to me during my time as honorary provost of Hawick.

“His good humour and caring attitude, I know, helped many people through difficult times.

“Thanks, Chuck, for what you did for me. You will be sorely missed by the entire Hawick community.

“Goodbye, auld freend.”

The town’s current honorary provost, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, said: “Hawick has lost a very special son who may have been small in stature but was huge in personality and kindness.

“As a common-riding icon, his knowledge and experience will be sorely missed.

“However, he has left a legacy that will stand the test of time. I would wish to express my sincere condolences to his family and many friends at this sad time.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall added: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the sad news earlier this week and, like many people in the town, I will always have so many wonderful memories of Chuck.

“I will always be grateful to him for the advice and support that he gave to me during my terms as honorary provost and chairman of the common riding committee.

“His passing leaves a very large void in our common riding, and he will be greatly missed by those that had the privilege of knowing him.”

Mr Whillans was also president of Hawick Rugby Club for two years in the mid-1960s.