Hawick Cornet Connor Brunton has described leading this year’s common riding as “truly life-changing”.
Speaking in St Leonard’s hut this morning on common riding Friday, one of the most important days in the town’s calendar, the 24-year-old joiner thanked the community for its support since he was unveiled as cornet elect last month.
Addressing supporters both inside and out of the hut, he said: “You have been great at every occasion since picking night, turning out at every event to cheer me on.
“Without the reception I have received, this wouldn’t have been half as special.
“It really has been a true honour to be cornet for 2019. I’ve made some great memories and new friends on this journey.
“It has been truly life-changing, and I will be forever grateful that the town of Hawick had the confidence in me to undertake this role.”
True to form, hundreds of well-wishers lined High Street this morning as Connor led a 240-strong cavalcade of supporters and visiting principals to the moor.
Having displayed the flag in front of St Leonard’s farmhouse, Connor made his way into the old steading to give his last speech there as cornet before riding the marches and performing the ceremonial cutting of the sod.
He said: “When ex-cornet Ian Nichol handed me the banner blue this morning, I was on cloud nine. This really is a dream come true.
“To be standing at the top table as cornet 2019 is a great honour and privilege.”
Insisting that Hawick Common Riding is “like no other”, Connor said: “People travel hundreds of thousands of miles to come back home every year, but we can’t get caught up in all the excitement without taking a moment to remember the brave young men who lost their lives protecting our town to give us what we have today.”
Leaving the hut “with mixed emotions”, Connor said he had a very important duty to perform in marking the boundary.
“We will be covering the same ground that we have been doing for hundreds of years and I want to do it right,” he said.
“Cutting the sod – it’s a once in a lifetime chance and I want to enjoy and savour it.”
Giving the toast to the common riding, ex-Langholm Cornet Billy Young told Connor: “There will be many other highlights in what I hope will be a long, happy and fruitful life, but nowt will ever hold a candle to this.”
Describing the riding of the marches as a glorious tradition that has endured for five centuries, he added: “It is the linchpin of this community. It is the jewel in its crown and the maker of its year.
“It is a rallying call for those that are exiled, for there will be many at this time who’ll dream of being back in the only place they will ever call home with the folk they ken the best and love the most.”
Returning to town following the traditional fun and races at the moor, the principals entered the Cobble Pool, where Connor marked the boundary by thrice dipping the town flag into the River Teviot.
Arriving back in town around 5pm, the procession, led by the town’s drums and fifes band, made its way back along the High Street.
The principals then proceeded to Mill Path for the proclamation and the singing of Teribus before returning to the town hall, where Connor displayed the flag.