OVER 100 members and guests gathered at the British Legion clubrooms in Duns on Friday night for Duns Burns Club’s 58th Annual Supper.
Those present were treated to some excellent speeches and a superb night was had by all.
Pipe Major Andrew Ainslie piped in the top table guests before the company was upstanding for the Haggis. The Rev Bill Patterson gave the Selkirk Grace and everyone enjoyed the traditional Burns fare of Scotch kail, then haggis, neeps and tatties, expertly served up by Mandy and Carol and their team of waitresses.
New chairman Ian Turnbull admitted to being a bit nervous about stepping into the shoes of Bill Patterson, who had been chairman for the past 25 years, but he need not have worried for he did an excellent job and the evening went without a hitch.
The chairman introduced the main speaker for the evening, Jim Barrie, from Eyemouth, who gave the Immortal Memory.
Jim conveyed the good wishes of the Clachan Burns Club before talking about the life and work of the Bard.
He explained that Burns was branded by some as a simpleton, a drunkard and a womaniser and that this put many people off reading his work but added that many more loved his work and honour his memory.
“Burns produced a great volume of work,” he said, “but this was a much greater achievement than you think because he did not write during all of his 37 years due to illness and work commitments.
“Much of his work was done before the death of his father and his inspiration came from working on his father’s farm in his early days.
However, working on the farm affected his health and this in turn affected his writing.
“He had no real success in farming for a variety of reasons. There was the constant fear of eviction and not being able to provide for his family constantly hung over him.
“Burns had great pride in our nation, its culture and its history. He read everything and anything that came his way and was very well versed in the writers of his day. He had views on all topics and could hold his own in any debate.
“The last eight years of his short life was committed to saving many lyrics and verses for posterity.”
Jim said that many criticised the Bard’s relationships with the fairer sex but added that had it not been for his encounters with the lassies we would have been denied the likes of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’.
As he asked the company to raise their glasses, Jim concluded: “Burns was a man who constantly searched within himself for solutions to our many problems and he had a great depth of knowledge of his fellow man.”
Duns Reiver Billy Walker proposed the toast ‘Tae the toon’. He explained that when Burns came to Duns in 1787 at the start of his Borders tour he would have had a similar view of the Merse as the Reiver and his followers do on the Saturday ride in Reiver’s Week. He added that Duns will always be proud of the Bard’s connection with the town.
The ‘Toast tae the Lassies’ was given by George Storey. George, now living in Hawick, was formerly from Duns and was Duns Reiver 50 years ago.
In a hilarious, joke filled speech George explained that his wife had also been invited to attend but had turned down the invitation as she couldn’t stand him speaking for 15 minutes without being able to interupt him!
The reply to this speech was given by local GP Dr Diane Sinclair. She explained that flattery had always been part of the male repertoire.
She asked the ladies to try and remember when men bought them flowers and took them for romantic meals and said: “All that changes when you get married, there is a sudden change and the sense of romance seems to disappear.”
During the evening there was a programme of first class entertainment. The highlight was surely David Sanderson’s very own version of ‘Tam O’Shanter’ with props and all!
Frank Millar led the company in a number of Burns songs, ably assisted by Murray Henderson and Jimmy Feeney with Sandra Nisbet accompanying them on the keyboard.
Young David Cockburn delighted his audience with ‘Willie Wastle’, while Ian Buick dressed appropriately for his version of ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ and also had everyone in stitches with ‘To a Louse’. Rob Cockburn was again at his best reciting ‘To a Mouse’ and ‘Epistle To a Young Friend’ and Pipe Major Ainslie gave a stirring performance on the pipes.
The chairman gave the vote of thanks to the guests and artistes and Murray Henderson gave the toast to the chairman in his own inimitable style. He explained that taking over from the legend that is Bill Patterson was like taking over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United!
An excellent evening ended with the company singing ‘The Star O’ Robbie Burns’.