Robert Burns

Alexandria Burns Club
Annual Festival

Saturday 28th January 2017

Burns supper top table

Guests and Artists (from left to right): David Callander (President of Dumbarton Burns Club), John Young, Andrew Gordon (rear), David McDonald, Ian Embelton (Vice President), Bryan Weir (President), Donald Reid (rear), Donald Graham, Duncan Crawford, David Kinniburgh and Malcolm Gilmour (Piper). (Click Image to view in larger window)

We had a maximum attendance of 150 members and guests this year in the Alexandria Masonic. I think I am right in saying that this would have been the largest number we have ever had at one of our events. The top table guests were piped in by Malcolm Gilmour.

Burns Supper chairman

Chairman Bryan Weir welcomed everyone then the company observed a one minute silence for deceased honorary member and bard o' the Vale, the irreplaceable Duncan McLean.

Haggis arrives

Carrying the haggis

The haggis was ritually borne by our caterer, Robert Mills of Venue Catering, accompanied by our long time piper Malcolm Gilmour. The chairman offered the Selkirk Grace before the Address to the Haggis, which was delivered by club member John Young.

Address to the HaggisAddress to the Haggis by John Young

The company then enjoyed another excellent meal from Robert Mills' team before the Chairman, Bryan Weir proposed the Loyal Toast.

Immortal Memory

Following a short interval the members and guest got settled for the start of the main program. David Kinniburgh got things underway with his Immortal Memory. David has performed Tam o' Shanter for us on a couple of occasions in the past but this was his first time doing the Immortal Memory for us. It was very well received by the audience as evidenced by the extended applause.

Thumath and BrownThe first musical contribution was by James Thumath (guitar) and Tom Brown (bodhran). James and Tom have entertained us in the past and once more they performed a great set. James's arrangement and the combination of the guitar and bodhran seem a perfect match in the wonderful setting that is the Alexandria Masonic Temple.

Duncan Crawford and John Barleycorn

Making his debut at our supper with his Toast to John Barleycorn was long time club member Duncan Crawford. Duncan had never done anything like this before but a "talent scout!" had spotted him speaking in the Vale of Leven Bowling Club a couple of years ago. It was noted at that time that his bowling related speeches were being very well received.

Duncan's toast was centred on his youthful experiences of being introduced to the Barleycorn with his friends, some of whom were in the audience. He wove a hilarious tale around this and had the company laughing out loud, great start to what should be a burgeoning career as a speaker.

Accordionist Andrew Gordon

Andrew Gordon, our accordionist, had to call off last year due to a sudden illness. A fully fit Andrew made his return this year. Andrew has his own ceillidh band and he is kept busy travelling all over with this. He always appreciates a wee gig in his home town. He says it is like a night off to him but his wonderful talent on the accordion is always appreciated by the members of Alexandria Burns Club. Tonight was no different.

Tam O'Shanter is always a very popular item on the programme of Burns Suppers all over the world. We had it on our programme again this year. John Young (pictured above with the haggis) performed Tam for us tonight. His performance was entertaining and flawless.

Donald Graham

Closing this part of the programme we had a new face in Donald Graham. Donald is a poet from Milngavie who has published a book of his works. These are very original and very funny. He entertained us tonight with some of them. Both his introductions to each poem and the poems themselves were hilariously interpreted with his unique delivery.

Toast to the Lasses

After our second interval the evening restarted with Malcolm Gilmour, entertaining us on his bagpipes. Tom Brown and James Thumath then returned to entertain us again in music and song. They were followed by the toast to The Lasses from Donald Reid. Donald is a retired policeman from Ayrshire who is also  a published author. His toast once again was very entertaining.

To a mouse

The final reading of the night came from club member David McDonald, who did "To a Mouse". This was addressed to David's own wee mouse, which he had brought with him. The chairman followed this with a short poem called "Fae a Mouse", a reply to the bard from the mouse, which was written by Robert Foxx, Secretary of Helensburgh Burns Club.

Chain of office

Our VP, Ian Embelton, then proposed the Toast to the Artists before being presented with the chain of office by the chairman and outgoing president Bryan Weir. Congratulations to Ian on taking the chair for the next three years.

Auld Lang Syne

A very successful evening then closed with club member David Mitchell leading the company in the Star o' Rabbie Burns and Auld Lang Syne.

The date of the next St Andrews Night Dinner will be Friday 24th November in Vale of Leven Bowling Club. Next year’s supper will take place here on Saturday 27th January 2018. Thanks to everyone who assisted in making this another very successful evening.

(Photos by Tommy Gilmour.)

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