Russian Students Perform Tam O' Shanter

Around 100 people gathered in Alloway Parish Church Halls on Friday 3rd November 2017 to enjoy a lively performance by a group of visiting Russian pupils from School No 61 in St Petersburg. The pupils - aged between 10 and 14 - had been visiting Scotland - courtesy of The St Petersburg Forum - and were delighted to be invited to tour Belmont Academy and to perform to a packed Assembly Hall of students there. They also performed at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, before arriving at the Church Halls on that Friday evening where Alloway Burns Club provided a meal for them and for those travelling with them.

Those arriving for the concert were welcomed by talented local piper Daniel Nicol - a pupil from Belmont who often plays at our events. At 7pm, President Andrew Moynihan welcomed members of Alloway Burns Club; other Burnsians from the Ayrshire Association of Burns Clubs - as well as numerous visitors to watch a dramatic adaptation of the Tam O’ Shanter poem. Both Robert Burns and Tam himself were portrayed with great enthusiasm by the students and there was a hilarious Punch and Judy type scene where Tam’s wife - Kate - hit him repeatedly with a rolling pin! The play also included many other poems and songs....such as Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin; Coming Through The Rye and Ae Fond Kiss to name a few. The storm and the witches were particular highlights as ribbons were skilfully twirled to represent the wind and the witches danced in the near darkness.

After the play, two Scottish members of The St Petersburg Forum: Helen Morrison and Tom Clark were “knighted” by a famous Russian actor travelling with the youngsters. It was explained that, as he is a Knight in Russia, he can bestow the same honour on others. Next, Cameron Kerr - of Alloway Burns Club - who had spent the day with the Russian pupils at his school, gave a thoughtful rendition of The Soldier’s Return. Afterwards, a hearty supper was provided by Alloway Burns Club and everyone enjoyed the opportunity for refreshments and chat.

For the second half of the evening, the audience was entertained by a number of very talented local youngsters. Rebecca Hannah and Calum Hannah gave excellent recitations, as did Oliver McGimpsey, while Sophie Craig thrilled the company by reciting and singing: all four are Junior members of Alloway Burns Club. In addition, we were entertained by another regular performer - Lucy Pye - an extremely skilful cellist.

Towards the end of the evening, a vote of thanks was given by John Campbell, President of the Ayrshire Association of Burns Clubs. As tickets had been sold for the concert, a gift of £200 was made towards the costs of the visiting youngsters, before the evening finished with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne, led by Bruce Kennedy.

Russian and Girvan Youngsters Entertain

Around 80 members and friends from other Burns Clubs enjoyed a wonderful evening of entertainment on Friday 22nd September in Alloway Parish Church Halls. Three young Russians, who were successful in the St Petersburg Forum ‘Knowledge of Scotland’ competition, visited Alloway and had a guided tour of the Cottage, the Museum, and walked the route of the Tam O’Shanter poem with members of Alloway Burns Club.

The visiting youngsters were also treated to a lovely meal, provided by President Andy Moynihan and his wife, Tracy, Club Secretary. Afterwards, they gathered in the Church Hall with Celtic Voices, a youth singing group from Girvan, to provide the evening’s entertainment.

Firstly, Anna Zakharova gave an interesting account of Scottish wildlife ‐ including singing a song set to the tune of Greensleeves. Then Alex Kramovq had everyone laughing as he talked knowledgeably of our bard ‐ as if he were Burns’ descendant! Finally, Ksenia Sobko told us all about her search for a hero which led her to the ‘heartthrob’ William Wallace, ending with a dramatic dance for her hero. All three young people then sang a traditional Russian folksong.

Sprinkled among these performances were a wide selection of songs from the extremely talented members of Celtic Voices from Girvan, led by Davie Hunter. Eva Rennie, Alicia Stevenson, Beth McMaster, Megan and Niamh Rae gave us humorous songs about ‘The Midgies’ and ‘The New Teacher’ ‐ two excellent Scots songs ‐ as well as classic Burns in ‘O A’ The Airts’ and even a wee Disney number from the film Pocahontas.

The company broke for tea and coffee midway with the President encouraging everyone to have a ‘guid chat’ with the many visiting guests. During this break, it was wonderful to see the Russian teenagers join the girls from Celtic Voices for some communal singing as they relaxed and took group photographs. After the vote of thanks from Vice-president Maureen Leitch, the evening finished with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Inter-Club Night

Despite the rain, which has been a pretty pervasive feature this summer, over 60 members and friends enjoyed the annual Inter-club night at Alloway Burns Club. As always, the prospect of Susan Searle’s delicious Clootie Dumplings, and the diverse range of entertainment on offer attracted many Inter-club friends and members to Alloway Village Hall.

The evening was ably compered by Junior Vice-president Bill Duncan and Burns songs and poems were well represented, including a most interesting tale about and recitation of The Calf by Past President Charlie Weir; a first ever (and extremely accomplished) performance by our webmaster and honourary member Bob Thomson, as well as an excellent performance by a new junior member Oliver McGimpsey. There was also a wide range of other musical and poetic contributions: an audience participation song and a humorous address to the Clootie Dumpling were among the eclectic mix of performances. The vote of thanks was given by Allan Menzies and another enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Wreath Laying Ceremony

It was a sunny Sunday morning for the annual wreath laying at the monument in Alloway and there was an excellent turn out of club members and representatives from other Burns’ clubs and organisations. Young piper, Tigan Harley, led the company to the monument from the gathering point outside Alloway Church and once inside, club President, Anrew Moynihan, thanked her, welcomed everyone to the event and said a few words about the continuing importance of Burns and his influence in the world today.

Wreaths were then laid by:

Sean McGlashan ‐ Burns Birthplace Museum Curator
William Grant ‐ Depute Provost, South Ayrshire Council
John Scott ‐ MSP for South Ayrshire
Bobby Kane ‐ Robert Burns World Federation
John Campbell ‐ Ayrshire Association of Burns Clubs
Alex McKenzie ‐ Ayr Burns Club
Margaret Greenlees ‐ Irvine Lasses Burns Club
Isobel Lynn ‐ Kilmarnock Howff Burns Club
Tom McCrorie ‐ Prestwick Burns Club
Ian Capstick ‐ Kilmarnock No 0 Burns Club
Andrew Moynihan ‐ Alloway Burns Club

Friendship Evening

Over eighty members of Alloway Burns Club and friends gathered at Burns Cottage on the evening of the 23rd of July to remember the very first Burns Supper which had been held there in July 1801, five years after our Bard’s death. Due to the inclement weather forecast, the gathering was held in the Education Pavilion. A talented young piper, Tigan Harley, played as everyone arrived in the cottage grounds.

Once everyone had been served wine or soft drinks, the club President, Andrew Moynihan, welcomed the company- particularly the guests and visitors to the club- and explained the significance of the event.

The guest speaker, Martin Cassidy ‐ a renowned Burnsian and Past President of Alloway Burns Club ‐ then spoke of the different roles Burns had played throughout his life ‐ as son, brother, husband, father ‐ and of the commitment he had given to each of these roles. The first part of the evening ended with the President and guest Martin Cassidy laying a single red rose in the window of Burns Cottage while Lucy Pye ‐ an extremely accomplished young cellist ‐ played ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose’.

The company then made its way across to Alloway Village Hall, where, after an excellent buffet meal supplied by the Poet’s Corner, they settled down for ‘sangs and clatter’ hosted by Junior Vice-president Bill Duncan. There was an excellent variety of songs, poems and musical items and much laughter before the evening was brought to an end by the vote of thanks from Senior Vice-president Maureen Leitch and a traditional rousing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

First Ever Coffee Morning

Thanks to all who supported via baking, plants, books, preserves and most importantly by coming along to enjoy it all and have a right guid natter!! A thoroughly enjoyable morning catching up with Burns Cronies and fantastically raising £592 towards our P7 Burns Supper in 2018.It was so good we’re already thinking it should be an annual event to support an equally important annual event, keeping Burns alive in our young folk via their Burns Supper. Well done everyone.

Youth Night And AGM

The final event of the 2016-17 session was the Youth Night in Alloway Parish Church Halls. This saw a packed venue entertained by seventeen incredibly talented young people. Some were junior members of the club while others had been invited to come along by Council members Beth Kerr and Brenda Clelland who had organised the entertainment and who introduced all the acts. The audience was treated to songs, poems and music on the bagpipes, violin and cello. Every young person (and they ranged in age from Primary 3 to Secondary 6) was a star. That part of the evening concluded with Club President, Malcolm Ferguson, thanking each young person individually. They were then presented with an Easter Egg and given the opportunity to be members of the club for a year at no cost. Members and the guests then enjoyed a light supper provided by the Council members.

As has become tradition, the Youth Night was followed by the AGM. After paying tribute to the three members and former members of the club who had passed away over the last year, the President gave an account of all the club’s activities over the session. There were then reports from the Secretary, Treasurer and Development Officer. As both the Allan Menzies, the Treasurer, and Myra McLanaghan, the Secretary were demitting office, the President took the opportunity to praise their contribution to the club and thank them for their commitment over many years. Malcolm Ferguson then passed the chain of office on to the new President, Andy Moynihan, and wished him every success in his two years in that role. Helen Spankie was appointed the new Treasurer and Tracy Moynihan took on the position of Secretary. Finally tribute was paid to Susan Searle and Martin Cassidy who were both leaving Council. Allan Menzies replaced Susan as an ordinary Council member and Bill Duncan was appointed the new Junior Vice-President.

“Auld Alloway”

Despite miserable February weather there was an excellent attendance at the “Auld Alloway” evening in the Church Halls. The company was entertained by two local speakers.

Firstly local author Dr Alasdair Wham spoke about the local railway lines. While he concentrated on the old light railway which ran through Alloway and down to Girvan via Dunure, Maidens and Turnberry, he also described some of the other lines which had been a feature of the South Ayrshire landscape. He even included evidence of the waggonways which had existed in Burns’ time. His vast array of illustrations produced many murmurs of recognition from his audience. Amazingly he even discovered that one of his audience had been present when the disasterous railway bridge collapse happened at the old Alloway Station.

During the break for supper provided by the Council, members were able to examine the club’s library of books and consider how little they had aged since some old club photographs, which were on display, were taken. Before the second half of the evening commenced, the President, Malcolm Ferguson, presented the gentleman responsible for all these photographs, Bill Kerr, with a gift from the Club.

The second half of the evening was an enthralling account of the building of the Burns Monument in Alloway. Former President, Hugh Farrell, not only explained the details of the planning and construction process but also gave his audience an insight into the personality of the main individuals involved in the build and the social history of the time. Like Dr Wham his presentation was well illustrated and had the same mixture of information and humour that guaranteed the undivided attention of his audience to the end.

Having completed his technical duties with the illustrations for both talks, Senior Vice-President, Andy Moynihan, gave the Vote of Thanks. The President then presented Mr Farrell with a cheque for £280, which had been raised at the Club’s recent Alloway 1759 concert. The evening as always finished with “Auld Land Syne” led by the Club’s Development Officer, Bruce Kennedy.

School's Burns Supper

Ayr Town Hall was the venue on the evening of the 15th February for the seventeenth “Burns for Life” Schools’ Burns Supper organised by Alloway and Ayr Burns Clubs. Almost eighty young people from twenty one local schools gathered to celebrate the legacy of Scotland’s National Bard with a very traditional evening of music, song, poetry and speeches. Every element of the event was done by the young people themselves.

Three senior pupils from Belmont Academy, - Katie Hitchen, Innes Reid and Cameron Kerr ‐ expertly chaired the evening which began in the usual fashion with the arrival of the Haggis. This was piped into the Hall by Daniel Nicol also from Belmont Academy. Kieran McClymont from Tarbolton Primary carried in “the chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” and his school friend Rory Scott recited the “Address to the Haggis”.

After an excellent meal prepared by Lawrie Headley and his team from Ballochmyle Golf Club, the company settled down for the evening’s entertainment. Every school contributed excellent performances. The variety of songs, poems and musical items showcased the talent of the young people of South Ayrshire. In some cases these were individual acts and in others all the representatives from a school produced a joint performance. They were all a credit to their schools.

Three young people from Doonfoot Primary, - Alan Gillespie, Abigail McPartlin and Oliver McGlimpsey - combined to give a stirring Immortal Memory. The Toast to the Lasses was ably and hilariously performed by Alexander Hill from St. Ninian’s Primary and two young ladies from Dalmilling Primary ‐ Ellie O’Hare and Amy Jones were equally impressive and amusing in giving the Reply to that Toast. Shelly Gibbons from Coylton Primary gave a very full and appropriate Vote of Thanks.

At the end of the evening Douglas Hutchison, Director of Education at South Ayrshire Council, presented each school with a commemorative gift of a book kindly donated by Martin Cassidy, Past President of Alloway Burns Club. At the same time, Lynn Crossan, Quality Improvement Officer at South Ayrshire, was presented with a bouquet to thank her for all her work liaising with the schools before the event. The company then joined in the traditional singing of “Auld Lang Syne”.

The event could not have happened, however, without generous sponsorship from a number of local firms and organisations. These included McCarthy and Stone, McTaggart and Mickel, Breedon Aggregrates, Menzies Contracts, A C White Solicitors, the 1st Alloway Company of the Boys’ Brigade and The Ayrshire Association of Burns Clubs. There were also very generous donations from members and friends of both Alloway and Ayr Burns Clubs. All these companies, organisations and individuals as well as the members of Alloway Burns Club who assisted on the night were acknowledged in the programme.

1759 Celebrations - 2017

As part of this event, Alloway Burns Club put on its annual concert in Alloway Parish Church. As always, this mainly showcased the work of the Bard but also included a number of other songs and poems. This year the concert was titled “Shall Brothers Be” - a title, which, of course, is borrowed from the last line of the last verse of one of Burns’ most popular pieces.

An audience of well over a hundred enjoyed a rich and varied programme. This included songs from Jean Kerr, Alloway Burns Club Choir and the ever-popular local folk group Luath, who at one point took on the role of The Proclaimers. Poems were interspersed amongst the music. These included pieces from Maureen Leitch, Bill Kerr, Martin Cassidy, Bill Duncan and Brenda Clelland as well as two of our junior members, Calum Hannah and Cameron Kerr.

A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon was brought to a fitting close firstly by Bruce Kennedy’s unaccompanied singing of “A Man’s a Man” and then the entire company and audience joining together for “Auld Lang Syne”. A retiral collection raised £280 towards the fund for the restoration of the Burns Monument which dominates the Alloway skyline.

Anniversary Dinner - 2017

A cold crisp January evening witnessed over a hundred members and friends of Alloway Burns Club gather in the stunning setting of the Brig O’ Doon House Hotel for the club’s major event of the year, our Anniversary Dinner. After a welcome from Club President, Malcolm Ferguson, the evening commenced with the haggis, which was piped in by Daniel Niven, being addressed by Junior Member, Cameron Kerr. After the Selkirk Grace given by Club Treasurer, Allan Menzies, the assembled company enjoyed a delightful meal. The first part of the evening was completed with the Loyal Toast from Council Member, Beth Kerr and the Secretary’s remarks from Myra McLanaghan.

Before the entertainment got properly underway the President, who was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, explained the debt of gratitude owed by the club to its webmaster Mr Bob Thomson who was then presented with Honorary Membership of the Club by the Development Officer, Bruce Kennedy. The first entertainment item was three beautiful Burns’ pieces from Luath, the popular local folk group. The company then enjoyed a fascinating Immortal Memory from Professor Kirsteen McCue, in which she used the format of Desert Island Discs to track her personal journey with the works of the Bard. This speech was, as we expected, peppered with a number of songs from the lady herself. The standing ovation at the end showed how much her Toast to the Bard had been enjoyed.

Alison Jones then performed an amazingly energetic Tam O’ Shanter which more than maintained the high standard set by the previous speaker. Alison was followed by the Alloway Burns Club Choir under the leadership of Karin Stewart and accompanied by Caroline Kennedy. This is always a highlight of any event at which they perform. On this occasion, they entertained the company with three new pieces. It was then the turn of the club’s Senior Vice-President to propose the Toast to the Lasses. Andy Moynihan’s hilarious delivery produced gales of laughter throughout the room. Alison’s second recitation of the night was a dignified but emotional rendition of “A Man’s a Man”. She was followed by Tracy Moynihan who had the opportunity to get her own back on her husband when she replied to his toast. She didn’t miss the mark and again peels of laughter resounded round the function suite.

As the evening drew to a close, Luath again took centre stage and the company enjoyed three more beautiful songs. Junior Vice-President, Maureen Leitch, then gave the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the company while the President presented floral arrangements and mementos of the evening to the main guests. As with all our functions the final act of the night was the singing of Burns’ international song of parting “Auld Lang Syne”.