Hawick Callants Club: founded 1904

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Here Callants once at Flodden's fight
Renowned for deeds of matchless might
When Scotland's valour sank in night
Shone Hawick's on the Border.
And long as Hornshole Brig shall stand
That trusty valour through the land
Shall tell the story proud and grand
Of Hawick on the Border.

J L Hercus

2013 dinner: 01 March: Club rooms Hawick RFC

Callants Club president Dr Charlie Oliver welcomes guests to the annual dinner

Provost strikes optimistic note

Provost Ron Smith boldly exclaimed that he was looking forward to a bright future for Hawick as he addressed last Friday night's Callants Club dinner.

The Liberal Democrat councillor for Hawick and Hermitage admitted that times have been tough for quite a while.

Giving his reply to Oor Ain Auld Toon in the Mansfield Park clubrooms, he said: "We can certainly all look back, whatever our age, to a time when Hawick was a more vigorous and more confident town. Whether it was through the employment of thousands in the textile mills, with workers' buses coming from the neighbouring towns; whether it was through the location of a main line railway; whether it was a High Street full of activity and many small shops; or whether it was through the continued existence of Hawick auction mart, we were indeed confident in our knowledge that this was a thriving town.

"Things have changed. At whatever political level we look, whether it be Europe, Britain, Scotland, the Borders or Hawick, or indeed Newcastleton or Roberton, we see communities feeling under siege in so many different ways."

But he admitted his positive feeling for the town remained, despite the economic uncertainty.

And that was largely down to the people of the town.

"Hawick still has so much reason for confidence. And that has to be the message of all of us here this evening and everyone in the town, that we have reason for confidence," he said.

It was an upbeat message delivered during what was a tremendous evening.

With club president Dr Charlie Oliver at the helm, he had written out the perfect prescription of speakers and entertainers. A superb meal from Debbie Brown and her staff got the evening off to the best possible start, while Bobby Froud and his staff kept everyone well watered throughout.

Chief guest was Selkirk's Donald McLeod, a former president at Philiphaugh and a decorated surgeon who spent many years as team doctor with the Scottish Rugby Union. With anecdotes covering his medical history and time in the rugby world, he paid great tribute to the work of the Callants Club.

"The Hawick Callants Club's guiding principles remain as crucial today as they did in 1904/05," he said. "Cultivation of local sentiment, preservation of ancient customs and institutions, fostering local arts and literature, commemoration of important local incidents, and perpetuation of memories of worthy townsmen."

One of those worthy townsmen was James Thomson, Ednam born, who lived at Southdean most of his younger years.

His life and works were recounted by Keith Barker, sales and marketing manager at House of Cheviot, in the toast to Border Art and Literature.

Thomson penned Common-Riding songs Up wi the Banner and The Border Queen, and in his toast to Oor Ain Auld Toon, local cycling enthusiast and Drums and Fife stalwart Ian Anderson made mention of the many works celebrating Hawick.

He said: "There are more songs and poems written about Hawick than most decent sized countries and the list keeps getting added to as the years go on."

The toast to Our Common-Riding and our Cornets was proposed by ex-Acting Father Murray Richardson, while Cornet Ross Nichol replied, revealing the great honour it had been to leave his own mark on the town's history and traditions.

He said: "Remembering its history and customs, taking part and hopefully leaving the young Callants of the day with an ambition to be the Cornet, is what I think our ancestors of yesteryear, who died for this town and our country, would have been very proud of indeed."

One particularly proud man was top-table guest Brian Patterson, the golden jubilee cornet. It was also a momentous occasion for John Hope who received a life membership from the club. The toast to the chairman was proposed by vice-president Derick Tait.

With Ian Seeley accompanying, a typically huge variety of entertainers favoured the company, including Bert Armstrong, Henry Douglas, Douglas Telfer, Scott Lambie, Ian Landles and Alan Brydon, Craig Neilson, Tom Redpath, Ronnie Nichol, David Nuttall, David Chapman, Malcolm Grant, Gordon Jackson, Ian Nichol and Philip Murray, who led Teribus and Cornet's Up at the end.