2014 dinner: 28 February: Club rooms Hawick RFC
Safeguarding the future of the community
Provost Stuart Marshall hailed the multi-million pound investment being made in Hawick during an impassioned address at Friday night's Callants Club dinner.
The Hawick and Denholm member admitted that he and his fellow town councillors knew there was a lot of work still to be done to safeguard the future of the local community, but assured diners that things were happening in this regard. In his State of the Nation speech in the Mansfield Park clubrooms, he said: "We must look to what is being achieved in oor ain auld toon. And whilst evidence may not be visible round every street corner, please be assured that much is being done.
"£10million is being spent on the Stonefield regeneration programme, a real shot in the arm for the toon, providing good quality, affordable housing in a new, well designed neighbourhood.
"It's also great to see Waverley Housing's £1million renovation of the former tax office in Bridge Street, transforming another empty building back to life again."
Alluding to further investment in the town, Mr Marshall highlighted the £2.6million lottery cash injection for Wilton Lodge Park, which he said would see Hawick's jewel in the crown fit to receive even more visitors than it attracts today, while also welcoming the £1.2million lottery cash boost to create a state-of-the-art community pub at the former Burnfoot Roadhouse.
It was a typically passionate delivery, and just one of several first-class orations during what was a memorable evening.
Club president Derick Tait began proceedings on a poignant note by calling for a few moments of silent reflection following the passing of Councillor Zandra Elliot. The president's tribute to Mrs Elliot was indicative of his stewardship of the dinner – eloquent, succinct and brimming with pride.
A wonderful meal from Debbie Brown and her staff ensured the culinary bar had been raised yet again, while Bobby Froud and his staff kept everyone well refreshed.
Chief guest was Hawick-born David Stevenson CBE, a hugely successful figure in the worlds of both sport and business. An Olympic pole-vaulter at the Tokyo Games of 1964, and the driving force behind the rapid expansion of his family1s firm, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, David, a doyen of Langholm, recalled his early sporting and entrepreneurial endeavours in the Muckle Toon, with the former eventually leading to international recognition, and the latter the establishment of an 150-strong network of knitwear shops, from Wick to Truro.
Although laced with many humorous anecdotes, David's speech also carried a cautionary message in relation to Hawick's status as the world's foremost knitwear manufacturer.
He emphasised: "Knitwear made in Hawick is a brand. It is respected, it should be protected and developed. It should be looked at as it is very difficult to quantify."
Giving a refreshing and entertaining toast to Border Art and Literature, club member Craig Neilson focused on the diverse range of creative talent that pours out from our Borderland, namely sonic innovator Ziggy Campbell, formerly of Burnfoot; Selkirk's international rock stars Frightened Rabbit; and Denholm's award-winning animator Ainslie Henderson.
Urging diners not to get too carried away with the jet-set lives of the aforementioned trio, Craig then continued with some warm praise for local performers such as Alan Brydon and Ian Landles, and the "much missed" Ian Seeley, who died last year.
"He contributed so much to the town, the Common-Riding and this very club", said Craig.
In conclusion, Craig added: "The people I have mentioned tonight are just a handful of those adding to our region's artistic spirit and long may it continue."
Senior police officer Kevin Murray, a superintendent involved in the Commonwealth Games planning and a born-and-bred Teri, continued in the same rich vein as the speakers before him with a well-researched and well-presented speech on Oor Ain Auld Toon, while the toast to Our Common-Riding and our Cornets was spoken from the heart by Vancouver-based Professor Douglas Scott, chief guest at the Common-Riding of 2012, and currently on an astrophysics lecture tour of the UK. Cornet Chris Ritson's reply saw the town's hugely-popular flag bearer talk in glowing terms of his time in office. "A year which would never be equalled," he enthused.
Golden Jubilee Cornet John Hope had pride written all over his face when asked to say a few words on his long-standing love affair with the Common-Riding, while also savouring the superb occasion were Arnold Park, Drew Glendinning, Jock Rae and Roddy McIntyre, all of whom were attending the dinner for the first time as new members. The toast to the chairman was proposed by vice-president Frank Scott.
President Tait laid claim to having emptied the top drawer with the line-up of entertainers, and how right he was, with those favouring the company including club singer Bernie Armstrong, Bert Armstrong, Ex-Acting Father Henry Douglas, Ex-Acting Father Malcolm Grant, Douglas Telfer, Tom Redpath, Doug Riddell, Ronnie Nichol, Iain "Scocha" Scott, Drew Johnstone, David Nuttall, Alan Brydon, Ex-Cornet Ian Nichol, and Ex-Cornet Philip Murray who led Teribus and Cornet"s up at the end. Ian Landles accompanied the singers throughout.