Lee stakes his claim to principal role in Langholm festivities

Cornet Lee Earsman with right and left-hand men Graeme Murray and Derek Hogg
Cornet Lee Earsman with right and left-hand men Graeme Murray and Derek Hogg

FENCER Lee Earsman posted his name into Langholm’s annals on Friday when he was elected the latest in a long line of cornets.

The 32-year-old is following in the footsteps of his brother Ian who carried the flag in 2004.

Lee scooped the public poll at the first time of asking with a majority of 211 over Alasdair Cavers who was making his second bid for the honour.

Langholm is unique in Border common riding and festival circles by making the appointment open to townsfolk. Lee – who is employed by Buccleuch Estates – secured 559 votes against Alasdair’s 348.

When Common Riding chairman Roger Maxwell announced the result to a packed Buccleuch Centre, the Right and Left-Hand men, Graeme Murray and Derek Hogg, hurried off to Douglas Terrace and the home of Cornet Earsman’s parents, Ian and Anne, to break the good news. Neighbours, relatives and friends soon arrived to congratulate Lee, who is vice-president of the Castle Craigs Club.

The new cornet then headed off with his supporters to visit the various hotels and clubs where they received a warm welcome.

Later in the evening the leading principals attended a well-supported dance in the Buccleuch Centre where the traditional polka was danced. Earlier, Langholm Pipe and Town Bands played while 907 people cast their votes.

Prior to the result being confirmed a presentation was made to Dick Hill after more than 40 years as Common Riding committee secretary. Kenneth Hill has stepped into the shoes of his father, with Dick becoming assistant secretary. The chairman presented Dick with an inscribed painting by local artist Billy Ewart.

Chairman Maxwell praised 2010 Cornet Graeme Murray on a fine job carried out with dignity, and said his parents John and Linda must have been proud. He also congratulated the Right and Left-Hand Men, Derek Hogg and Simon Richardson, on the way they carried out their duties.

Mr Maxwell thanked many others who had helped make the Common Riding a success, including officiating magistrate David Stevenson, Fair Crier Rae Elliot, the hard-working committee, bands, landowners, patrons, sponsors and donors.

New secretary Kenneth Hill said it has been the custom of his father to speak about the 25 and 50-year cornets, and he would continue in the same vein.

He said that George Ian McVittie was elected in 1961, his father Alex McVittie having been cornet in 1929. There was a hush in the crowd on the Common Riding morning when the death of Provost John Hislop had been announced. Among the crowd in the Market Place was C. M. Grieve, better known as Hugh McDiarmid. The cornet had 127 mounted followers.

More than 1,000 votes were cast in 1986, he said, when Iain Park was elected cornet. Iain was the son of Billy Park who was cornet in 1951, while his great-grandfather was cornet in 1856. It was fine weather with 178 riders and James Harkness handed out the town standard.

The secretary confirmed they were still looking for a sports secretary, and made reference that the alterations to the sports field last year, when the sprint was run in the opposite direction and had proved a success.

He gave a run-down on all the work that the committee was involved in and had special mention for the chairman and vice-chairman Tommy Morrison. He also praised his father for dedicated work over the years.

Treasurer Paul Davidson revealed the accounts which showed they were pushed to break even, confirming it cost around £25,000-£30,000 each year to run the Common Riding.