Bridge ceremony marks Burns visit to Coldstream

Coldstream Burns Club Chairman, Rob Smith re-enacts Robert Burns' actions where during his visit to the Borders he crossed the Tweed Bridge leaving Scottish soil and entering England for the first time on the 7th May1787, he went down on one knee and recited the last two verses of "The Cotters Saturday Night"
Coldstream Burns Club Chairman, Rob Smith re-enacts Robert Burns' actions where during his visit to the Borders he crossed the Tweed Bridge leaving Scottish soil and entering England for the first time on the 7th May1787, he went down on one knee and recited the last two verses of "The Cotters Saturday Night"

Coldstream Burns Club held their annual Tweed Bridge Ceremony on Sunday commemorating the visit of Robert Burns to the town in May 1778 when he crossed over the bridge and stood on English soil for the first time.

The ceremony was attended by 60 members and guests including representatives from the Robert Burns World Federation, Liam Wallis the Coldstreamer, Martin Brims chairman of the Community Council, Jim Leifer, chairman of Presenting Coldstream, Stuart Galbraith, chairman of the Riders’ Association, James Bell chairman of the 1513 Club and Derek Balmbro, chairman of the ex-Coldstreamers Club along with representatives from other Border clubs including Galashiels, Hawick, Peebles, the Howff Club of Dumfries, Whiteadder, Eyemouth and the St Andrews Club of Berwick,

After gathering in the British Legion Club the members and guests, led by Pipers Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie, set off in procession for the bridge with the hint of rain lingering in the air. On reaching the bridge the company gathered around the plaque placed on the west parapet of the bridge by the club in 1926 while the Police ensured that the traffic was stopped for the duration of the short ceremony.

After a brief welcome Rob Smith, club chairman, reminded everyone of the story of Burns’ crossing of the bridge and then as Burns did all these years ago he dropped on one knee before reciting the last stanza from Burns’ famous poem “The Cotter’s Saturday Night”.

Garlands were then attached to the parapet alongside the plaque by John Elliot, Coldstream Burns Club secretary and Frank Manson, President of the Howff Club of Dumfries.

Principal guest, Jane Brown, junior vice-president of the Robert Burns World Federation added a nice touch to the proceedings by laying a single red rose below the plaque. The company then retired to the Craw Green to continue the ceremony by which time the sun was shining.

Following a formal welcome to guests and members, Rob Smith called on Jane Brown to propose the toast to Robert Burns. Jane is Manageress of the Globe Inn in Dumfries, a hostelry which is synonymous with Burns and she possesses a wealth of knowledge on her subject which she imparts to others in a passionate but also humorous way. Her toast merely underlined her talent and her undoubted love of all things Burnsian.

Her praise of Coldstream Burns Club and the annual ceremony at the bridge was fulsome and she considered it an honour to be asked to propose the toast to the bard at what is now regarded as a prestigious ceremony in Burns circles.

Her toast was followed by the piping duo of Pipe Major Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie who were in top form, not only playing the fine tune “The Sands of Kuwait” but also in leading the procession to and from the town.

Jim Davidson, honorary president then stepped forward to propose the toast to Coldstream Burns Club. With well over 50 years involvement in the club there is no man better placed to pass comment. He expressed his pleasure at the current good health of the club and his confidence in the officials and the committee.

Jim also complimented Jane Brown on her stirring toast to the bard telling the assembled company that he had fond memories of Dumfries having spent some of his younger years there and obtained his first job after leaving university.

During the proceedings, Mike Ross from the Berwick St Andrews Club, who has a poetry programme on the local radio station Generate Radio, took the chance to record what was going on and also to interview some of those present. He plans to transmit some of the recordings in a future show.

The company then retraced its steps to the British Legion Club where an excellent spread was provided by the Besom Inn.

A first class day was rounded off with some impromptu entertainment in the Burns tradition with performances from Kenny Brodie, James Bell, Rob Bell, Ian Buick, David Clark, John Elliot as well as excellent contributions from some of the guests including Jane Brown.