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

Report in Hawick News of 13 March 2015 on Annual Dinner held on 6 March 2015

The President, Chief Guest Ken Scott and top table guests (photo: Alistair Learmonth). Download the full text of Ken Scott's speech....

Provost throws spotlight on High Street concerns and busy mills There is one problem that can't be ignored in Hawick and that is the vast amount of empty shops on the High Street.

This was the warning at the Callants Club annual dinner in the Hawick RFC clubrooms last Friday night when 115 members and guests including 20 past-presidents, attended.

Replying to the toast of Oor Ain Auld Toon, Provost Stuart Marshall said it was heartbreaking to see the state of the High Street at the moment. And that is why everyone in the town, councillors and townsfolk alike, need to support the great efforts being made by [the High Street regeneration group’s] Andrew Farquhar, Derick Tait, Marion Chrystie and other local folk, all of whom are in the throes of bringing Future Hawick under the umbrella of a Scottish charitable incorporated organisation, which will allow them to generate funds and make more effective use of the 30,000 [grant from Scottish Borders Council] to help kick-start the revival plan for the High Street. Both Burnfoot and Hawick community councils are working flat out, too, and should be commended for their efforts.

Turning to the local employment scene, the provost was delighted to reveal that most knitwear factories are reporting healthy order books, while Emtelle UK, the cabling systems manufacturer, has created 71 jobs in recent months and is likely to invest 10million in its UK base at Haughhead in 2015, on top of the 10million already ploughed into the firm’s Hawick plant last year. Turnbull & Scott (Engineers) is also in rude health thanks to 2014 being its best year on record.

The provost announced that the chief guest at the Common-Riding would be the Reverend Michael Scouler, minister at Trinity Parish Church.

Proposing Oor Ain Auld Toon, ex-Acting Father Henry Douglas BEM recalled some of his earliest memories of Hawick including his amazement at the number of mill chimneys there were. They seemed to be everywhere. Sadly now, along with a lot of the mills, they’ve all gone. Mr Douglas, a retired farmer, remembered when he started at Hawick High School and how dinner-times were spent in the winter. If it was good weather a rugby ball was kicked about at the Volunteer and during the bad days snooker and billiards were played at the old PSA {Pleasant Sunday Afternoons} clubrooms where B & M is now. It was time to return to school when the mill hooters sounded.

He said one of the biggest changes in recent years and what was a tremendous blow to Borders farming was the closure of Hawick Auction Mart in 1992, because not only did the mart serve the needs of all the farming community, it also brought in large numbers of visitors who would shop, eat, socialise and do business in the town. This was all gone when the mart closed and farmers, shopkeepers and many other businesses suffered the consequences to some extent.

A proud Fither to Cornet Derek Inglis in 1978, Mr Douglas went on to say the Common-Riding had been a big part of his life and that he considered himself very fortunate to have been allowed the privilege, pleasure and honour to take part in the annual celebrations for a mighty long time. He also said it was an unbelievable experience as last year’s Common-Riding chief guest and it was something he would never ever forget.

Mr Douglas finished his toast by singing ‘Oor Ain Auld Toon’, after which Callants Club president Frank Scott invited him to become an honorary life member of the club which he graciously accepted.

President Scott, who chaired the evening, proposed the toast to the principal guest, Ken Scott, a war crimes prosecutor and said that although a native of the USA, Mr Scott counted himself as a proud Scot and an active member of Clan Scott. He said their guest was born in Oklahoma and first rode horses Western-style at an early age.

He graduated with honours from both the University of Colorado and Harvard Law School, before taking on the role of assistant US attorney in the Department of Justice in Denver, Colorado, where he gained a reputation as a successful prosecutor. He was appointed senior prosecutor at the international crime tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, at The Hague, Netherlands, and successfully investigated cases against 13 major war criminals.

His interest in the Common-Riding was sparked after watching the cavalcade of 1998 during a visit to the Borders with his family. He has ridden at every Common-Riding since 2010 and described the celebrations as an intensely human event, chalk full of community pride and genuine emotion.

In reply, Mr Scott talked warmly of his adopted Scottish home town of Hawick. The town’s authenticity always impressed him, as did the Common-Riding, which was the biggest and the best.

Continuing on the Common-Riding theme, he said Hawick had something very, very special and that it should never be taken for granted. The town had something that in so many places in these modern times has been lost, has gone missing.

It was a real sense of history, a sense of community, a sense of belonging. All of which brought him back to the town year after year, and he hoped for many years to come.

Changing the focus to his professional life, Mr Scott talked of his fascinating but sometimes depressing work as a senior war crimes prosecutor, and touched on globalisation. Business and crime are substantially further down this continuum than governments and law enforcement, he said. Crime and business operated in a largely borderless world, while governments and law enforcement agencies still grappled with the old world order of country boundaries.

Other toasts were Border Art and Literature, Alan Brydon; Common-Riding and Cornets, Scott Lambie (reply, Cornet Ross Gibson); and The Chairman, by Bernie Armstrong.

Those who entertained the company with song and recitation were Callants Club vice-president Bernie Armstrong, Bert Armstrong, ex-Acting Father Malcolm Grant, Drew Johnstone, Doug Telfer, Craig Neilson, Graeme Tinlin, ex-Callants Club presidents Ronnie Nichol and Ian Landles, official Common-Riding song-singer Michael Aitken, Alan Brydon, Iain H. Scott and ex-Cornet Ian Nichol.

The pianist was former Callants Club president Ian Landles, while club chaplain, the Reverend Charles Finnie, enjoyed his first dinner, and Deborah Brown Catering provided an excellent meal.

A memorable evening concluded with a rousing rendition of Teribus led by Michael Aitken and 19 “Cornets up.”