An emotional Burns Supper

David Shepherd addresses the haggis in his own inimitable style.
David Shepherd addresses the haggis in his own inimitable style.

Coldstream Burns Club celebrated its 131st anniversary last Saturday at the annual supper in the Royal British Legion Scotland Club.

The evening was, however, overshadowed by the sad and sudden death of club stalwart and town character Gerald Tait who had passed away a few hours earlier.

Coldstream Burns Club 2019 Burns Supper top table: front row John Elliot, David Douglas, Robin Dodyk; back row Grant Campbell, Rev David Taverner and Coln Leifer.

Coldstream Burns Club 2019 Burns Supper top table: front row John Elliot, David Douglas, Robin Dodyk; back row Grant Campbell, Rev David Taverner and Coln Leifer.

Notwithstanding the sadness this provoked, members were determined to honour the memory of a man who had done so much, not only for the club but also for the town.

The meal was preceded by the Selkirk Grace, delivered by Rev David Taverner, and a short prayer for Gerald.

The haggis arrived, carried high by Bobby Hanlon to the skirl of Rob Bell’s pipes and addressed by club member David Shepherd, who brought his own individual slant to the toast delivering the toast with gusto and more than a soupcon of humour. An excellent meal, prepared and served by Sonia Martin and her assistants, was duly enjoyed.

Before singing his opening number, Bobby Hanlon, a long-time friend of Gerald, delivered a short but emotional eulogy to him and was followed by pianist Ken Pritchard who gave his own tribute, an impeccable performance of Purcell’s ‘Dido’s lament’.

David Shepherd addresses the haggis watched by piper Rob Bell.

David Shepherd addresses the haggis watched by piper Rob Bell.

Principal guest for the evening was Robin Dodyk, prominent Burnsian from Kelso. In an Immortal Memory centring on Burns’ love of the countryside and nature, Robin utilised a series of quotes to reinforce the point that the bard was a lover and keen observer of his natural surroundings.

The toast was followed by the lament ‘The flo’ers o’the forest’ piped by Rob Bell in memory of his pal, Gerald Tait.

The toast to ‘The toun’ was proposed by ex-Coldstreamer, Colin Leifer, whose father and brother are both members of the Burns Club and were in the audience, Colin spoke of his love for the town in an excellent speech laced with humour and anecdotes from his childhood, youth and adulthood. The toast ‘To the lasses’ was proposed by another ex-Coldstreamer, Grant Campbell, who had obviously spent a lot of time researching his toast evidenced by the quality of the content which he delivered in a relaxed and humorous manner, winning the plaudits of the company.

Over the years ‘Tam O’Shanter’ has been recited by many people each in their own personal manner. On Saturday night club members were treated to an outstanding performance of Burns’ classic poem by Rob Smith - the first occasion he has recited it at the supper.

The haggis is carried in by Bobby Hanlon tae the skirl o' the pipes played by Rob Bell

The haggis is carried in by Bobby Hanlon tae the skirl o' the pipes played by Rob Bell

Throughout the evening the musicians and singers performed to the highest of standards. K2 (Kenny Hilsley and Kenny Brodie) were at their best, with classics like ‘Helen of Kirconnell’ and ‘Green grow the rashes o’’ Add perennial favourite Bobby Hanlon and you have a perfect musical recipe.

At the end of the evening, which was chaired by David Douglas, members united in voice to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.