Langholm warms to Cornet Andrew

Langholm Cornet Andrew Elliot, centre, with right-hand man Lee Earsman and left-hand man Graeme Murray
Langholm Cornet Andrew Elliot, centre, with right-hand man Lee Earsman and left-hand man Graeme Murray

AN OUTBREAK of Common Riding fever hit Langholm on Friday night when the public turned out in force to vote for this year’s Cornet, and enjoy the town and pipe band perambulating the streets, writes John Smith.

Andrew Elliot from Burnfoot of Ewes was elected, defeating his nearest rival by 39 votes.

It was a rather cool and damp evening but there was a good turnout and 1,020 votes were cast at the Buccleuch Centre for the four candidates. The result was: Andrew Elliot 345; Simon Tweddle 306; Alasdair Cavers 213 and Stephen Devlin 156.

When the result was announced at the public meeting, the Right- and Left-hand Men, Ex-Cornets Lee Earsman and Graeme Murray rushed out of the hall and made their way to Buccleuch Terrace, the home of the elected Cornet’s uncle and aunt, Billy and Liz Young.

There, they broke the good news to Andrew and his mother Anne and family, including granny Jean Young, and close friends. His uncle Billy was Cornet in 1984 and the late John Young, the Cornet’s grandfather, took the role in 1950.

Neighbours, relatives and friends soon gathered at the house to congratulate Andrew, 30, who runs the family farm with his mother and brother Robin.

The new Cornet then headed off with supporters to visit the various hotels and clubs, starting off at the Masonic, where they received a warm welcome and were entertained with a number of Common Riding tunes by some of the town band members.

Later in the evening the leading principals attended the dance in the Buccleuch Centre, which was well supported with music provided by Bon Accord. The traditional polka was danced with the Cornet and his partner taking the lead.

Earlier in the evening at the beginning of the public meeting, the town band played the usual Common Riding favourites on stage.

Common Riding committee chairman Roger Maxwell was accompanied on to the stage by secretary Kenneth Hill, who took over the duties from his father Dick last year, and treasurer Paul Davidson.

Mr Maxwell welcomed a good public turnout and said everything had gone very well last year, with marvellous weather.

The chairman congratulated 2011 Cornet Earsman and said he had been a credit to himself, his family and the people of Langholm. The Right- and Left-hand men, Graeme Murray and Derek Hogg, were also praised for their support.

Mr Maxwell made reference to the warm welcome of the townsfolk that kept bringing the visitors back.

He thanked the hard-working committee members and praised numerous others who had helped make the Common Riding a success, including officiating magistrate David Stevenson, fair crier Rae Elliot and the bands, the landowners, patrons, sponsors and donors.

The nominations for the committee were announced, and the chairman said they would welcome any others who wished to join, or people who wanted to help on the day.

Mr Hill spoke of the Common Riding 50 years ago when 24-year-old textile worker William Harkness was elected when standing for the third time, beating George Ellwood and Irving Edgar in the count. The previous days’ weather was poor, but it was a glorious day for the Common Riding and Provost Grieve had presented the standard to Cornet Harkness who had 126 mounted followers. The semi-jubilee Cornet that year was Wat Robinson.

There were two candidates 25 years ago and Robert Rae, 22, a plumber, was elected ahead of Andrew Johnstone. His grandfather, Robert Rae had been Cornet in 1913. Robert received the standard from officiating magistrate James Harkness. He had 188 mounted followers and was blessed with fine weather.

That year, James Maxwell retired after 25 years as chairman, his place being taken by David McVittie who stepped up from vice-chairman. Alex Pool also took over the running of the concert from Davie Edgar. Mr Hill ended by praising the hard work of the committee.

Treasurer Paul Davidson gave a healthy financial statement which showed a profit for the year of £5,251. There were no questions from the public.

The treasurer thanked the committee for their help and also the Royal Bank of Scotland staff, along with those who made donations and sponsored events.

The only question raised concerned bottles on the street at the closing ceremonies and a worry about broken glass for the horses. The chairman said it would be discussed by the committee.