Hawick Callants Club: founded 1904

Latest news
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

2017 Smoker: 12th May

Callants Club officials, members and guests join newest member Cornet Ali George at the smoker in the Town Hall  (Photograph courtesy of Derick Thomson)

Congratulatory Smoker for Cornet Ali George, Friday 12 May 2017

Around 190 members and guests attended last Friday night's Callants Club congratulatory smoker in the town hall.

The company welcomed the newest member of the club, Cornet Ali George, who was inducted by president Dave Chapman. The latter offered up an evening of “guid company, short speeches and guid Hawick songs and poems” and without doubt the event hit the spot.

Best known around the town and further afield as a singer and guitarist with local band Scocha, Dave, or Chappy to his many friends, had secured a line-up of singers of the highest order, and the night was the perfect showcase to illustrate the massive wealth of talent we have in the town. Indeed, an army of entertainers performed an incredible 26 different turns.

How lucky we all are to live in a town where singing Common-Riding songs is actively encouraged from school age onwards. The array of songs performed, the volume of singing from the band of brothers and the fabulous atmosphere was simply a musical treat to behold.

A jukebox of entertainment, Hawickstyle, from some of the classic Common-Riding tunes – that simply never grow old – to some of the new songs, there was something for everyone.

The night ticked so many of the right boxes. Listening to men belting out songs they had written is always special. While watching Chappy provide a masterclass in how to chair an event with his mixture of wit, humility and genuine enthusiasm was magic. Adding the perfect complement was Cornet Ali George and that infectious smile. Just brilliant.

Time and again speakers remarked on our Cornet’s fabulous rapport with young and old and how we were watching the man grow in confidence day by day since his appointment. Ali beamed with pride throughout his first Callants’ Club event, and deservedly so.

The chairman also congratulated 50-year Cornet George Peden on his anniversary.

The golden jubilee callant went on to reflect on how the Common- Riding has evolved over the years, comparing the 87 riders who followed him on his first ride-out to Bonchester back in 1967 and the numbers that form the cavalcade now, and the great pleasure this gave him.

Proposing the toast to Acting Father Ronnie Frost was his good friend, ex-Acting Father Kenny McCartney, who congratulated the Cornet on his excellent choice.

He was confident that Ronnie would fulfil his role as acting senior magistrate with great pride and diligence, and threw the spotlight on Ronnie’s sterling service with Hawick YM RFC and Hawick Horse Racing Association. Kenny also highlighted the Fither’s leadership qualities, stating he was the “right man, at the right time, for the right job”.

In reply, Ronnie spoke of the wave of emotion and excitement since Picking Night, and the thrill of seeing his Cornet carry out his duties to such a high standard.

He also said that he knew the adventure of a lifetime was only going to continue to get better.

Proposing the toast to the Right and Left, Euan Reilly and Gregor Hepburn, was Callants’ Club council member Graeme Hodgins, fresh from celebrating his 30th anniversary ride to Bonchester the previous weekend. Graeme remarked that the smoker was one of his favourite events in the run-up to the Common-Riding. He continued by thanking both Euan and Gregor for the work they put in to ensure all the ride-outs take place. He also congratulated the pair on their efforts during their respective terms of office.

In reply, Euan told the company that the year had flown by since he made his speech as Cornet at the 2016 smoker. He applauded the Callants’ Club on its work in the town and spoke of his joy during his tenure as Cornet.

Gregor said he had been able to take something of a back seat at this year’s event, but he knew that he could do so safe in the knowledge that the other members of the Big Four were all carrying out their roles with great assuredness.

As the evening drew to a close, Dougie Rae, who had earlier performed with “the greatest band in the world”, namely the Drums and Fifes, proposed a toast to the chairman in recognition of what had been a memorable evening.

Dougie said the entertainment had been “straight out of the top drawer” and he was bang on.

The night then ended in traditional style with ex-Cornet Philip Murray singing Teribus with 20 Cornet’s Up.

The entertainers were: singers – past-president Bernie Armstrong, Bert Armstrong MBE, Drew Johnstone, Robert Scott, Drew Gibb, Scott Lambie, Iain ’Scocha’ Scott, president Dave Chapman, Alan Brydon, ex-Acting Father Malcolm Grant, David Finnie, ex-Cornet Chris Ritson, John Tait, past-president Ian Landles BEM, Doug Riddell, ex-Acting Father Kenny McCartney, ex-Cornet Ian Nichol, Ronnie Tait, and past-president and ex-Acting Father Henry Douglas BEM. The reciters were Doug Telfer, ex-Cornet Philip Murray and Graeme Tinlin. Ian Landles and Drew Gibb accompanied on piano.