The sun shone on Coldstream Burns Club members and guests as they followed in the footsteps of their hero to Coldstream Bridge to remember the bard’s first sojourn onto English soil in 1787.
A plaque in the middle of Coldstream Bridge is a permanent reminder of Burns’ visit to the town in the May of that year. As he walked over the bridge with his good friend Robert Ainslie from Duns, Burns recited part of the ‘Cotter’s Saturday Night’ on the English side of the border.
The visit is remembered annually by the local Burns Club and on Sunday they were led by a piper to the bridge for this year’s ceremony.
In a brief re-enactment of Burns’ actions, club chairman David Douglas knelt on one knee to recite a stanza from ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’ just as Burns had done 229 years previously when he crossed over the bridge to stand on English soil for the first time.
Wreaths were then attached to the bridge parapet alongside the club’s commemoration plaque by the chairman and the president of the Howff Club of Dumfries, regular guests at the ceremony.
After the short ceremony the attendees adjourned to the Craw Green, next to the bridge, where the chairman welcomed guests from a number of kindred clubs and from other organisations in the town including this year’s Coldstreamer, Jamie Nicholson and his right and left hand men, Andrew Guthrie and James Balmbro.
This year the toast to the memory of the bard was proposed by Bobby Kane, senior vice-president of the Robert Burns World Federation, who recounted the history of Burns’ visit to the Borders area and at the same time made a number of telling points about Burns the man.
This was followed by the lament ‘Highland Cathedral’ played in fine fashion by pipers Rob Bell and Keith Guthrie.
The toast to the club was proposed by David Smith, long serving secretary of the Howff Club and regular attendee at the bridge ceremony for a number of years. In his toast David praised the club officials and committee for the excellent manner in which the commemoration was organised and also for the friendly welcome and warm hospitality which he said the Club was adept at extending.
After the toasts the company returned to the British Legion Club for a finger buffet followed by a convivial afternoon of songs, recitations and humour.