Alexandria Burns Club
Saturday 22rd January 2011
A capacity audience of members and guests attended the Club’s annual Burns Supper held once again in that most atmospheric of Burn’s settings in the Masonic Temple in Gilmour Street Alexandria.
At 7 o’clock prompt Malky Gilmour piped the members of the top table into the room and they threaded their way amongst crowded tables onto the platform. Chairman for the evening was Club President Harry Summers who welcomed guests and members to the Supper. The President of Dumbarton Burns Club, Dr Patrick Trust, well known to the audience as a recently retired Vale GP, was on the platform as guest of honour.
A little bit of history was being made because this was the first time that the two neighbouring clubs, Dumbarton and Alexandria, had held their Burns Suppers in the same venue on successive evenings. The first duty of the evening was to pay our respects to members who had died during the past year by observing a one minute’s silence. One member had passed away since the 2010 Supper, Hugh Proctor.
Malky Gilmour then piped in chef Robert Mills bearing the Haggis, which was addressed by John McKenzie of Gartocharn in exemplary manner, while the beast behaved itself.
The chairman said the Selkirk Grace and that was followed by a fine, traditional Scottish meal provided by Venue Caterers.
After the Loyal Toast, the President announced an innovation by the Club – the creation of a new category of membership for members who had performed outstanding service to the Club over many years – Honorary Life Membership.
It is not anticipated that there will be more than five of these at any one time and the first four to be elected are Duncan McLean, the Bard o' the Vale, Malcolm Gilmour, the Piper o the Vale, Andrew Lockhart and Lennie Moore. The company gave the four a great ovation.
The main event of the Supper, the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, was delivered by Bryan Weir. Not only does Bryan’s membership of the Club go back to 1974 he is also the web-master of the Club’s web-site.
Although he has given the Immortal memory at other Burn’s Suppers, this was the first time which he had done it at the Club Supper. Bryan discussed the international appeal of Burns and told the audience of contact which he had had in the past few days from a newly-formed Club in Ukraine showing the continuing universal appeal of the Bard.
The Memory was humourous, wide ranging and informed and was very warmly received by the audience.
David Collins, who was making his debut at the Supper at the grand old age of 79 (he has sung a number of times at the St Andrew’s Night) gave the company a Man’s A Man for a' That as he sang unaccompanied. Davie was followed by Eddie Gaughan who delivered the Burns poem with just about the longest title – “The Auld Farmer’s New Year Morning Salutation to his Auld Mare Maggie on Giving her the Accustomed Ripp of Corn to Hansel in New Year”. It was a rare treat for the members to hear this poem and in performing it Eddie was ably assisted by Lennie Moore in the silent role of Maggie. Eddie added Holy Willie’s Prayer in the second half.
Alex Galbraith brought greetings to Alexandria from the Mother Club, Greenock Burns Club and its President, David Roach. A retired policeman, Alex was the furthest travelled on the Artists and his journey was well worth it as he delivered a funny and very informative Toast to John Barleycorn, which was very well received.
Alex was followed by our second singer Tom McRae who was accompanied by Andrew Lockhart.
Tom has sung a number of times at the Burns Supper and he is a favourite with the members, and no wonder because his fine voice is perfect for Burns songs.
John McKenzie, a farmer’s son, former farmer and latterly golf greenkeeper, is the perfect role-model for Tam O’Shanter.
Although John has spoken at the Club before, this was first time he had delivered a superb Tam o' Shanter at the Club which brought the house down.
The first half was rounded off by the incomparable Lennie Moore with Burns songs and Lennie’s jokes. The three doctors in the audience were intrigued by Lennie’s method of avoiding potential bee stings and as ever the audience was in fits of laughter.
The Toast to the Lasses was delivered by Joe Platt who had previously been Guest of Honour at the Club while President of Dumbarton Burn’s Club, but this was Joe’s first time as a speaker at Alexandria. His experience as a Sherriff contributed to the humour of Joe’s well-received Toast which also gave great insight into Burn’s experiences with the Lasses and their influence on his work.
It was Club Vice-President Fergus McLellan who gave a witty and inclusive Toast to the Artists thanking them on behalf of the Club members for their very entertaining and informative contributions.
The almost-final act of the evening was the transfer of the Presidency of the Club from Harry Summers to Fergus McLellan. Harry said that it had been a great honour and pleasure to follow the late Ian Collins as President and it was pleasure to pass the office into the safe hands of Fergus to whom he wished every success.
The whole company, led by Eddie and Andrew, then joined in very spirited renditions of the Star of Rabbie Burns followed by Auld Lang Syne and a most enjoyable evening ended right on the stroke of midnight.
A Selection of Burns Supper Images
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