COLDSTREAM Burns Club reached a historic landmark on Saturday when it celebrated its 125th anniversary with the annual supper in the British Legion Club.
On the 254th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, 90 members were in attendance to celebrate this special occasion.
Chairman Rob Smith got the proceedings underway by inviting the Rev Jim Watson to say the Selkirk Grace. The evening’s entertainment got off to a great start with a rousing address to the haggis from Dick Wood carried in to the skirl of Pipe Major Rob Bell’s pipes. The traditional meal which followed, provided for the first time by local caterer Madge Scott, was first class and was served in an efficient and friendly manner.
In his annual report John Elliot, Hon Secretary said that an extra effort had been made to celebrate the 125th anniversary with the printing of a special programme and the provision of a commemorative whisky miniature to each member.
He added that membership of the club stood at 148 with seven new members being welcomed that evening. He ended his report with the customary toast to “Burns Clubs the world o’er.”
This was followed by a toast to “the Club” delivered by Derek Balmbro, in which he expressed the wish that the current healthy state of the club would continue for at least another 125 years.
The evening was also a special occasion for two members in particular, namely Reg Fairbairn and Jock Law, each of whom had achieved 50 years membership of the club.
Before presenting their medals Rob Smith called on John Elliot to say a few words about the two recipients. John took the opportunity to outline both Reg and Jock’s active involvement in the club over the years and also to highlight their standing in the community as local characters. To the amusement of the assembled company John chose to characterise both recipients with a few stanzas of verse.
The evening continued with the toast to “Immortal Memory” which this year was delivered by Robert Stewart from Kirriemuir, President of the Robert Burns World Federation.
At the beginning of his speech Robert stated that he was delighted to be back in Coldstream after 63 years, explaining that as a 17-year-old youth he and a friend had cycled from his home in Angus to Coldstream to spend a week’s holiday with his sister. She resided in the town with her husband who worked for Hogg and Wood, Nurserymen and Seed Merchants. He never thought that all these years later he would be doing the “Immortal Memory” at the Coldstream Burns Club’s supper.
He had good memories of that visit which he said were reinforced by the warm and friendly welcome he had received that evening.
He proceeded to deliver a toast of the highest quality filled with insight, passion and humour drawing on quotes from the works of the Bard to make his points. His speech drew loud and lengthy applause from an appreciative audience.
The toast was followed by the customary lament played in excellent fashion by Rob Bell.
As always the singing was of the highest quality with Bobby Hanlon excelling on all three of his numbers accompanied by the impeccable piano playing of Ken Pritchard. This duo would grace any Burns Supper in the country.
Ken also provided the accompaniment for the communal singing throughout the evening.
Firm favourites Kenny Hilsley and Kenny Brodie were also on top form with the former in fine voice on songs like ‘Helen o’ Kirkconnel and ‘Ca’ the yowes’ backed by his own guitar and that of accomplished musician Kenny Brodie whose playing is always of the highest quality.
A trio of pipers was seen for the first time at a supper. The trio consisted of Rob Bell, Duncan Bell and Keith Guthrie, all established members of Coldstream Pipe Band but also members of the Burns Club. They proceeded to play a fine selection of tunes with harmonies well to the fore to the thorough enjoyment of the audience.
The recitations during the evening were also of the highest standard, the first of which was performed by chairman Rob Smith himself and was called “The Calf”. Rob explained that this humorous poem was written for a bet by Burns which he won. David Clark was at his entertaining best with a word perfect rendition of most people’s favourite, ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. Both Rob and David drew loud applause for their top class performances.
The toast to “the Toun” was delivered by Bill Rutherford. Born and raised in the Coldstream Bill was well placed to give this toast added to the fact that he is an accomplished after dinner speaker well known throughout the Borders. The ingredients of local knowledge and dollops of humour ensured that Bill received a great response from his audience.
Similarly Gerald Tait, one of Coldstream’s favourite sons despite coming from Wooler, in his toast to ‘the Lasses’ had the company in stitches. In his own inimitable style Gerald poked fun at the fairer sex but still managed to convey the impression that the lasses are the smarter of the two sexes.
The vote of thanks to Rob Smith, chairman of 18 years standing, was proposed by Kenny Brodie who took the the chance to also thank Rob Bell who had piped at all but two of the last 45 suppers. The immense contributions of both were recognised by the strength and length of the applause which followed.
The members, who had maintained the best of order all evening but had also been in fine voice whenever their chance to sing came, closed a highly enjoyable night with the customary “Auld Lang Syne”.