Alexandria Burns Club
Saturday 23rd January 2010
The Annual Festival of Alexandria Burns Club was held with a packed audience of members, friends and guests in attendance in the Masonic Temple, Gilmour Street, Alexandria on Saturday 23rd January 2010 at 7.00 pm with Harry Summers, President, in the Chair and Paul Riley, President of Dumbarton Burns Club as the guest of honour.
Malky Gilmour, the Piper o' the Vale, was, as ever, our piper for the evening and he piped in the top table at 7.00 prompt to get the evening under way. The first duty of the evening was to pay our respects to members who had died during the past year by having a one minute’s silence. Two members had passed away since the 2009 Supper, Robert (Bob) Crossan, who died a few months ago after increasing blindness and illness, and Ian Collins.
Ian, who had been the Club President for 13 years from 1996 – 2009, had collapsed and died very suddenly the previous day (Friday 22nd January) at Stansted Airport as he travelled back from Essex to attend this Supper. In paying a touching tribute to Ian, Harry Summers described Ian as an inspirational President who had led the Club to 13 of the most successful years in its history. A true Burns man and friend he will be missed by all and the Club’s sympathies go out to his wife Mary, son Ian and the rest of the family. Although there was an air of great sadness and shock in the room, the members and guests would make this a night for Ian Collins, who would be with us in spirit.
The haggis was then piped in and it was vigourously addressed by a young new-comer to the Club, who has a big future ahead of him as a Reader, Euan McCaughey. Euan is a 22-year old mechanical engineering student at Glasgow University and son of club member George who was giving the Toast to John Barleycorn later in the programme. Euan also gave us a reading of To A Mouse, which showed his versatility in the Bard’s works.
After the Selkirk Grace was read by the Chairman, the meal, provided as usual by Robert Mills Caterers, was served and enjoyed by all. It was followed by the Loyal Toast.
The main event of the evening, the Immortal Memory was passionately delivered by Jim McNiven. Jim is a former senior policeman and long time member of the Club who serves on the Committee. For many years Jim also organised and chaired the Vale of Leven & District Angling Club’s Annual Burns Supper, so all-in-all he was very well placed to Toast the Bard. The world-wide love for Robert Burns was Jim’s theme, from the early beginnings in Canada and the US to across the globe, noting how it continues to prosper and grow in Russia and elsewhere. Burns work is international in appeal because of its humanity. It was an informed and humourous contribution which was much appreciated by the audience.
Jim was followed by another newcomer to the Club, but not to Burns, Frank Kelly, who wowed the audience with his rendition of a number of Burns songs, unaccompanied. Frank’s father Willie Kelly was in attendance to hear Frank’s debut at the Club proving that the entertainment genes are alive and well in the Kelly family.
Long-time Club member George McCaughey made a welcome return to speaking at the Club with a polished, funny Toast to John Barleycorn which amply displayed George’s knowledge of and love for Burns. Father George and son Euan make a very good team indeed at Suppers.
Club stalwart, Eddie Gaughan, is a man o' a' the airts as he showed with his songs and readings. Eddie has been a member of the Club since the early 1990’s, has served on the Committee for many years, and was Secretary for 4 years, so he can turn his hand to just about anything as he showed during the evening.
By no means a new-comer, but new to reading at the Club is Andrew Lockhart. Andrew’s Tam o' Shanter and Willie Wastle were greatly enjoyed by the members, who have appreciated his music and support over many years. Andrew even returned to his usual role of accompanist to accompany the incomparable Lennie Moore.
With Lennie Moore’s Songs & Clatter on the programme, any evening is bound to be enjoyed. Lennie was in great form, with his jokes as usual bringing the house down and his Burns songs getting the members’ feet tapping.
Lawyer and noted amateur golfer Keith McIntosh came over from Helensburgh to thoroughly entertain us with his Toast to the Lasses. This was Keith’s first time speaking at the Club, but his Toast was well worth waiting for. Full of humour, it rattled along at a great pace and did full honours to Burns’ favourite subject.
Vince Dolan, speaking at the Supper for the first time, although a member for many years who has spoken at the Saint Andrew’s Nights, made a funny and complete speech to Toast the Artists and all who had helped to make the evening a success – Artists, caterers and bar staff, and Alexandria Lodge 321 for the use of this most atmospheric of venues.
The evening then closed with Frank and Eddie leading the company firstly in The Star o' Rabbie Burns and finally in Auld Lang Syne at 12.03. It was an evening worthy of the memory of Ian.
(Apologies for the quality and lack of images. We had camera problems on the evening.)