Coldstream Burns Club celebrated the 128th anniversary of its annual supper at the weekend in the British Legion Club.
The evening began with new chairman David Douglas being piped in and receiving a rousing welcome from the members and guests. In his opening remarks David made it clear he regarded it an honour to wear the chain of office of the club.
The meal was preceded as usual, by the Selkirk Grace delivered by the Rev David Taverner. A first class table of traditional fare followed, prepared and served up in the customary efficient manner by Sonia Martin and her assistants.
The entertainment got off to the best possible start with the arrival of the haggis carried high by Bobby Hanlon to the skirl of Rob Bell’s pipes and addressed by Ian Buick who was in rumbustious form.
In his annual report, the secretary, John Elliot, advised that the club was in good health with membership standing at 140 including four new members being welcomed that evening. He gave a resume of the club’s activities over the year which included a well attended Bridge Ceremony in May.
Two members had reached impressive milestones in their membership.
Fred Mitchell was into his 60th year of membership during which time he had been an active member of the committee and had been vice-chairman for the previous 10 years. In recognition of his service Fred was awarded life membership of the club and was presented with a pair of crystal whisky glasses.
The second presentation was made to Hamish Brown who had completed 50 years of membership, the point at which the club awards the membership medal.
This year the toast to the ‘Immortal Memory’ was given by Bobby Kane, senior vice- president of the Robert Burns World Federation, from Blackburn, West Lothian. In a knowledgeable and entertaining speech he extolled the genius of the bard and at the same time dispelled some of the less complimentary things that have been written about Burns.
As always the singers and musicians were of the highest quality receiving the best of order and the warmest of appreciation from the audience. The father and son duo of Rob and Hamish Bell were in fine form with Hamish performing an original song of his own composition which went down extremely well. The two Kennys, Brodie and Hilsley have become firm favourites at the supper and their performance did not disappoint with a standard of musicianship which reached professional levels. With Bobby Hanlon in great voice singing traditional favourites like ‘Mary Morrison’ and ‘Ae fond kiss’ as only he can, the audience experienced a musical evening to remember. As always, Ken Pritchard provided impeccable piano accompaniment both for Bobby Hanlon’s singing and also the evening’s communal numbers which were sung with great gusto.
The quality of the evening’s recitations matched that of the singers and musicians with Rob Smith, Ian Buick and Davey Scott doing more than justice to their chosen poems.
In Rob Smith’s case it was the amusing ‘To William Stewart’, while Ian Buick performed an atmospheric ‘Holy Willie’s prayer’ by candlelight and in costume.
Davey Scott’s ‘Tam o’Shanter’ was, in the eyes of many, the performance of the evening and certainly enthralled everyone present.
The toast to ‘The toun’ was proposed by the Rev. David Taverner. In a well crafted speech laced with a lot of humour he made complimentary remarks about various aspects of the town and the inhabitants, based on comments he had heard from people who lived in the surrounding area. He also expanded on the efforts of the church in the town, particularly with regard to the younger members of the community.
The toast ‘To the lasses’ was proposed by club member Donald Jack. Though he claimed he was a novice at this type of thing he nevertheless delivered an entertaining toast interwoven with Burns’ references and containing more than sufficient praise for the fairer sex to balance any fun poked at them. His effort deservedly drew generous applause.
At the conclusion of another highly enjoyable evening, Kenny Brodie in proposing the vote of thanks to the chairman praised David Douglas for his willingness to take on the task in the first place and also for the successful manner in which he had chaired the evening’s proceedings.
As usual, the members were in fine voice throughout and the evening closed with the customary rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.