Hawick Common Riding cancelled

Any hopes Teries may have had of returning to normality this summer have been dashed after Hawick’s Common Riding Committee took the decision to cancel the popular annual event for 2021.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 12:42 pm
2019 Cornet Connor Brunton, wearing his lass Victoria Campbell’s hat, is hoisted from the Town Hall.

All the region’s common ridings and festivals were cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hawick Common Riding is the first of the annual events to take place in the festival calendar, and the committe held a virtual Zoom meeting yesterday evening to discuss a letter sent by Scottish Borders Council’s joint acting chief executive, David Robertson, who gave advice on the chances of a festival going ahead this year.

In the letter, he said: “It can be anticipated that the Scottish Government’s Strategic framework setting out the 5 level protection tiers will continue to operate throughout 2021.

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“The framework is very useful in providing guidance to event organisers on the controls that they need to operate within under each tier.

“It would appear that we would need to be in a level 0 tier or level 1 for consideration of any form of attended event, whether indoors or outdoors, to take place and there would be controls applied around both the numbers attending and the format.

2If we were in Level 2 and above then events are, generally, not permitted.

“The likelihood of a traditional Common Riding with mass gathering events in May and June would be extremely challenging, and unlikely given the controls you would need to operate in under the 5-tier system.

“However, the suggested format of a blend of small-scale attended events within the tier 0 and 1 guidelines and virtual events is a sensible proposal and the Safety Advisory Group would be available to you to provide advice and guidance around any planning.

“It is too early at this stage to predict any changes to the controls within the 5-tier system as a consequence of the mass vaccination programme, but we are hopeful that as the programme advances then we may see more opportunities for events to take place later in the year.”

Lesley Fraser, secretary of the Hawick Common Riding Committee SCIO, said: “We first and foremost must ensure the safety of all those participating in its events.

“Historically, the Common Riding was based on the need to protect the townspeople, and we have taken the difficult – but we hope you agree the responsible – decision, to recommend that, for the second year running, Hawick Common Riding 2021 does not go ahead, in the interest of the whole community.

“To this end it was felt unfair to elect a Cornet and Acting Father this year, when events would be severely curtailed.

“As last year, the committee remain fully committed to marking the Common Riding in some way at an appropriate time, when circumstances permit and will endeavour to deliver another virtual Common Riding, which was greatly received by Teries the world over.

“We hope that this decision will have the backing of the townsfolk.”

This will be the first year since 2001 (because of foot and mouth disease) and before that, the war years, that a Cornet and Acting Father have not been chosen.

Other festivals, which happen later in the year, have yet to make a decision as yet, but more are likely to follow suit.