Last Sunday Coldstream Burns Club held their annual commemoration of Burns’ visit in 1787 when he crossed the Tweed Bridge to stand on English soil for the first time.
Members and guests, including the 2014 Coldstreamer Colin Leifer, representatives of the Burns World Federation and other local clubs walked in procession to the bridge led by pipers Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie with James Bell carrying the Club Standard.
On the bridge, in front of the plaque placed there in 1926, Rob Smith in his 20th year as Club Chairman knelt on one knee and recited the last stanza of ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’ in the same manner as Burns. Wreaths were then attached to the parapet by Club Secretary John Elliot and President of the Howff Club of Dumfries, John Clark. The company then retired to the Craw Green.
Principal guest, Jane Brown, President of the Robert Burns World Federation proposed the toast to Robert Burns saying it was an honour to be in such a historic place commemorating an important event in the life of Scotland’s national bard. She commended the club for establishing the ceremony as one of the most important in the annual Burns calendar. Her toast was followed by a lament played by pipers Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie.
The second toast, to Coldstream Burns Club, was proposed by David Baird, President of Dumfries Burns Club. In proposing the toast he repeated the words of the Scottish author Nigel Tranter, who after attending a club supper in the early 1960’s said -”long may Coldstream Burns Club flourish as it so patently deserves”. As a regular attender at previous Bridge Ceremonies David said the hospitality extended to Nigel Tranter which prompted his remark remained unchanged to this day and that the Club was held in high regard throughout the greater Burns movement.
On the completion of the formalities the procession returned to the British Legion Club for an afternoon of food, refreshments and impromptu entertainment in the Burns tradition.