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Lauder Common Riding Exiles Association was formed in 1978 and has been going strong ever since, currently chaired by Ex-Cornet Stevie Smith and coordinated by Joyce Ker and Kevin Laidlaw.
The Association sprang from a ‘bright idea’ in the beer tent after the 1977 Common Riding, with May Middlemiss agreeing to be the Interim Secretary at the very first meeting. May finally gave up the position in 2006 when Margaret Dick took over! Margaret handed the reins over to Joyce and Kevin in 2017.
Margaret has looked back over the newsletters sent out over the years and picked out some bits of interest:
May’s first newsletter was sent in June 1979.
The Exiles Association provided a new sash in 1979 as the old one was in poor condition. The cost was estimated at £56.60 plus VAT to include an embroidered Coat-of-Arms. The Common Riding Committee also had a new Flag made as the old one was in poor condition and it was hoped this would be ready in time for the Common Riding.
The letter in 1980 confirmed that the new Flag (to replace the original carried by Cornets since 1912) had arrived in time for the 1979 celebrations and was dedicated in the Church at the Kirkin O’ the Cornet. Unfortunately the new Sash ordered by the Association was not completed in time but had since been received and would be presented to the Common Riding Committee at the Reunion and worn by the Cornet at the Common Riding. The total cost of the Sash was £65.91.
Also in 1980 the cost of membership increased to £1 per annum. This stayed the same until 1992 when it jumped to £2, £2.50 in 2000. The membership was increased in 2008 to £4 to cover the ever increasing cost of postage, especially the magazines, and this remained the same until 2016.
1981 seems to have been the first year the Association made a presentation to the Cornet who was John Threadgall. He was given a pair of riding gloves and a stock at the Reunion.
Membership in the first year was 120 but then leveled out at around the 60/70 mark each year until 1982 when the number of paying members dropped to 36 and then carried on about 45/50 for several years. (Currently we have around 40 members)
Ex-Cornet Jimmy Shaw, on his Golden Jubilee year, presented the Association with a Visitors Book which everyone signed at the Reunion and which is still in use now.
In March 1985 all surviving Ex-Cornets were presented with a medal in bronze, a replica of one presented to the late Ex-Cornet Isaac White and now in the possession of Ex-Cornet David White. All future Cornets will be presented with one of these medals in their year of office.
In 1986 Ewen Forsyth and Rory MacLeod made a film of the Common Riding from Election Night through to the Common Riding Day itself. It was hoped to portray the main aspects and some of the goings on behind the scenes and eventually the film would be available on video. The Exiles Association gave a donation of £25 towards the costs involved.
1986 was the first year the Cornet received an inscribed hip flask from the Exiles Association. (This is still presented each year).
1988 was the first year that a Common Riding brochure was produced.
In 1999 the Landells family presented the Common Riding with a beautiful bronze statue of a Cornet mounted on a horse in full gallop, in memory of Ex-Cornets Bobby and Andrew Landells who carried the flag in 1933 and 1939 respectively, to be held by each future Cornet in his year of office.
2001 was “foot and mouth” year and the Common Riding Committee were not sure if the Common Riding would go ahead however it was agreed that only horses within a 5 mile radius of Lauder would be allowed to follow the Cornet, with no ceremony at the Waterin Stane and no spectators on the golf course or on the Common. There would be no ride-out on the Thursday night however everything else would proceed as normal.
2005 – May’s 26th and last letter to the Exiles was sent. Not bad for an Interim Secretary!!
2006 – Magaret's first newsletter to the Exiles – May was a hard act to follow!
2009 – Ex-Cornet Bill Brown stood down as Chairman of the Exiles Association and was succeeded by Ex-Cornet Stuart Thomson.
2010 – The Twenty10 Club was formed to encourage the youths of Lauder to become involved with the Common Riding. They have members’ badges and produced Threepwood Night ribbons to sell as a fundraiser.
2011 – Centenary Year of the modern Common Riding in Lauder. A new flag was made in honour of this milestone; it is very similar to the previous one with the Madonna and Child but the writing has been changed to Royal and Ancient Burgh of Lauder instead of just Royal Burgh of Lauder. The Exiles Association donated saddle cloths with and emblem of the Town Hall embroidered on to them for use by the Cornet, his Lass and the Right and Left Hand Men.
2013 was the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden. To commemorate this a special flag was commissioned to be carried round many of the Border towns in September. On 7th September The Cornet, Right and Left Hand Men and three others carried the flag from Melrose to Lauder where it stayed overnight in the care of Common Riding Chairman, Ian Fallas, and the following day it left Lauder again in the care of six riders from Duns with some Lauder supporters.
2014 – Ex-Cornet Stuart Thomson stood down as Chairman of the Exiles owing to work commitments and Ex-Cornet Stevie Smith stepped into his shoes.
LAUDER COMMON RIDING EXILES ASSOCIATION
Minutes of First Meetings:-
A PRELIMINARY MEETING was held in the Town Hall, Lauder on Sunday, 30th April 1978 at 6 o’clock.
Present: Wm. Hardie, Chairman of the Common Riding Committee
Mr and Mrs R Davidson, Eastriggs
Mr and Mrs Steel, Denholm
Wm. Alchin, Earlston
Mr and Mrs J Middlemiss
It was proposed to form an Exiles Association and to ask Ex-Cornet David White, 53 Stenhouse Road, Edinburgh to be Chairman. Mr Wm. Alchin agreed to be Treasurer and Mrs May Middlemiss to be Interim Secretary. Mr Bert Davidson offered to draft a circular letter to be sent to as many Exiles as possible. The question of a small Subscription or Membership Fee was discussed and it was decided to charge 50p to cover expenses.
The meeting was closed by Mr Wm. Hardie who was in the Chair.
A Meeting of the above was held in the Black Bull Hotel on 8th August 1978 at 8 pm
Present: Ex-Cornet David White, Chairman
Wm. Hardie, Chairman Common Riding Committee
Mr and Mrs R Davidson
Mr T Davidson
Mr W Alchin, Treasurer
Mrs May Middlemiss, Interim Secretary
The meeting was very informal and mainly discussion was centred around the Common Riding celebrations and in particular the Exiles Reunion which was enjoyed by all. Some small points, re-arrangement of seating, not so much music and having the buffet slightly earlier, were discussed. It was suggested that if possible the Exiles might be able to pay for a new sash for the Cornet if funds allowed.
The Chairman closed the meeting by thanking those present for their help and interest.
Initial Letter sent out:-
LAUDER EXILES ASSOCIATION
You will observe than an Exiles Association has been formed in our Royal and Ancient Burgh and it is hoped that you will wish to become a Member.
As Exiles know who attend the Common Riding regularly a warm welcome is always extended and it is always a cherished occasion to renew old ties and talk about times gone by.
It has been decided to hold an Exiles “get-together” on Tuesday evening of the Common Riding Week. This year, naturally, it will be of a modest nature but, hopefully, as the Association grows, it may become one of the highlights of the Common Riding.
A yearly news sheet will be sent to all Members and membership has been decided at 50p per annum. Families of Exiles being eligible for membership.
We would like to acknowledge the help and encouragement given by the Lauder Common Riding Committee in the formation of our Association, also, Mrs James Middlemiss, 25 East High Street, Lauder, who has kindly agreed to act as Interim Secretary and who will be pleased to hear from you.
(signed) David White
I/We wish to become Member(s) of the Lauder Exiles Association.
I/We will be able/unable to attend the function on Common Riding Week