Alloway Burns Club held its annual St Andrew’s Night Dinner at the Fairfield House Hotel. Members and friends were piped in by Piper Major Gavin Nicol before being welcomed by Club President, Andy Moynihan. As this was the final event of the centenary year of the club joining the Robert Burns World Federation, there was a special cake, cut by Ishbel Murnin, who had herself just celebrated her 90th birthday, to mark the occasion. Our Centenary Year Book was on display and a toast to Scotland and St Andrew, which was both amusing and thought-provoking, was given by the current President of the World Federation, Bill Nolan.
The evening’s entertainment, compered by Junior Vice-President, Bill Duncan, included a delightful selection of Scottish music from two extremely talented young people, violinist Calum Cooke and Amy Hoyle on guitar, poems by two Past Presidents, Martin Cassidy and Malcolm Ferguson, and a wonderfully eclectic mix of Scottish and Christmas songs from the folk group Luath. The vote of thanks was given by Senior Vice-President, Maureen Leitch, and the evening ended with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
On the 21st September, Alloway Church Hall was full for the visit of this year’s Russian visitors and the young ladies of Celtic Voices from Girvan. Annually, the St Petersburg Forum arranges a Knowledge of Scotland competition for that city’s young people with the three winners spending a week in Scotland including a regular visit to Alloway. We are always impressed by the linguistic skills and talents of these young people.
This year was no exception. Sasha Yeramin told the story of John Paul Jones, the Scot who served in the Russian Navy, founded the American Navy and wrote the National Anthem of the United States which Sasha played on his violin. Elizaveta Tokareva told the emotional story of the Scottish and Leningrad diaries and how this transfer of supportive material had sustained the Russian women during the siege of their city during World War II. Finally, Anastasia Grigoreva recounted the beautiful story contained in the book “The House on the Dvina” by Eugenie Fraser and how it linked two families in Russia and Scotland. The Russian guests also included a song accompanied by piano and violin in their impressive repertoire.
The girls of Celtic Voices are always a delight and they got everyone singing, feet tapping and laughing with their wonderful selection of old favourite and new Scottish songs. Davie Hunter’s leadership on guitar added to the pleasure of their performance. The company also enjoyed an excellent supper and the evening as always finished with “Auld Lang Syne”.
A pleasant summer’s evening provided the ideal conditions for seventy members and friends of Alloway Burns Club to gather in the grounds Burns Cottage to toast the memory of the Bard. Our annual Friendship Evening is a re-enactment of the very first Burns Supper, which took place at the cottage on 21st July 1801, when a group of Burns’ closest friends gathered on the fifth anniversary of his death. This year our event fell on the 222nd anniversary of the Bard’s death. Having been piped into the grounds by Tiegan Hartley, a student at Belmont Academy, the company was welcomed by Club President, Andy Moynihan, who introduced the main speaker, Margaret Greenlees, the current President of Irvine Lasses Burns Club. Margaret’s excellent speech was both topical and appropriate, emphasising as it did the role of women in the Burns’ movement and reminding us that this year marks the centenary of the first women achieving the right to vote.
Margaret finished her speech by asking everyone to raise a glass and toast the memory of Scotland’s National Bard. Andy then introduced one of our club’s Past Presidents, Margaret Skilling, who read the beautiful poem “In Burns Cottage” by Robert G Ingersoll, a distinguished American tourist who visited the cottage in 1878 and was deeply impressed by the experience. The final element of the first part of the evening was the laying of a single red rose in the window of the cottage by the President and principal guest while Tiegan played the bagpipes.
The company then made its way across to Alloway Public Hall where an excellent supper provided by the Poet’s Corner was enjoyed. After supper and the drawing of the raffle prizes, the company settled down to the evening’s entertainment compered by Senior Vice-President, Maureen Leitch. The entertainment was as always at this event provided by the company itself. There were poems and songs including two pieces from the club choir. There was even an international flavour to the proceedings as one of the contributors was a young man from Brittany. All too soon, it was time for the vote of thanks from Junior Vice-President Bill Duncan and the company to close what had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening with an enthusiastic rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”.
Alloway Burns Club’s first event of the new session was a coffee morning on Saturday, 16th June in Alloway Church Halls. This event is the club’s major fund raiser to support its annual Primary 7 Burns Supper. There was an excellent turnout of members and friends, who were able to enjoy a wonderful selection of home baking from the tables which were groaning with tempting treats. They could also purchase more of these delights, as well as a variety of preserves, at the home produce stall. Book lovers and gardeners were also catered for at the book stall and an extensive plant stall.
The event raised over £600 which will be a huge contribution to the cost of next February’s Primary 7 event. The President and Council of the club would like to express their thanks to all who provided donations, assisted on the day and supported a very enjoyable Saturday morning.
On the evening of the 20th of February, Ayr Town Hall echoed to the music and poetry of Scotland’s National Bard as young people from 32 Primary and 6 Secondary schools came together for a Burns Supper organised by Alloway Burns Club and Mrs Lynn Crossan, one of the Quality Improvement Officers at South Ayrshire Council. Representatives from all the Primaries which are associated with the High Schools in Ayr and Maybole were invited along with two senior students from each School.
The evening was chaired by the senior students from Carrick Academy, who did an excellent job of keeping the event running smoothly. The haggis was piped in by a talented young piper from Belmont Academy before the young people enjoyed a three-course meal prepared by Lorrie Headley, the chef at Ballochmyle Golf Club. Judging by the empty plates, this was well received by everyone.
A hilarious Toast to the Lasses was given by a student from the Southcraig Campus. All the other elements of a traditional Burns Supper were performed by young people from the primaries. This included the Address to the Haggis, the Selkirk Grace, the Immortal Memory, the Reply to the Toast to the Lasses and the Vote of Thanks. In between these speeches the company enjoyed a wide range of poetry, songs and musical entertainment mainly of the works of the Bard but not exclusively so. Every Primary School contributed to the entertainment on the night in one way or another.
The Alloway Burns Club members present made sure the evening ran smoothly by registering the young people, serving the food, providing supervision duties, playing the backing tracks for the singers and providing food and refreshments for the accompanying teachers, parents and friends. After the vote of thanks each of the attending schools received a book to be placed in their school library. These books were donated by one of Alloway Burns Club’s Past Presidents, Martin Cassidy and presented by another Past President, Mrs Margaret Skilling. As is tradition, the evening ended with everyone in the hall joining in a rousing rendition of “Auld Land Syne”.
Despite the miserable weather, over 90 brave souls gathered in the cosy atmosphere of Alloway Parish Church on Sunday 28th January 2018, as part of the 1759 celebrations locally. They were greeted by the music of piper Daniel Nicol ‐ a talented junior member and regular performer at Alloway Burns Club events and thereafter, were entertained by a wide range of performers from within the club.
The audience were welcomed by Past President, Malcom Ferguson, who explained about the Primary 7 Burns Supper which Alloway Burns Club organises and hosts annually.....to encourage youngsters to learn about Burns. Any donations from this concert were to be used towards the funding of future Burns Suppers for schools.
After this, the entertainment proper got under way, with the Junior members of Alloway Burns Club featuring strongly: Oliver McGimpsey skilfully and with great humour told the tale of Willie Wastle’s wife. Calum Hannah gave a spirited performance of To A Louse, while his sister, Rebecca, entertained us with a confident rendition of The Sair Finger.
The audience was treated to two sets of music and song by the extremely talented local folk group Luath ‐ who performed a range of Scots and Burns songs. The Alloway Burns Club choir led by Choir Mistress Karin Stewart and accompanied by Sharon McGregor-Bell sang a variety of heart tugging and “weel kent” songs. There were also poetry recitations from a number of Club and Council members, while Cameron Kerr, another junior member, read the verses of Auld Lang Syne at intervals throughout the afternoon. In addition, Cameron gave a very thoughtful and sensitive rendition of The Soldier’s Return.
The afternoon concluded with the communal singing of Auld Lang Syne led by Luath, the Choir and the other performers. An enjoyable afternoon was had by all.
It was a dry and reasonably bright morning as six members of Alloway Burns Club joined representatives of other clubs, political representatives and members of the public at the Burns Monument in Ayr for the annual wreath laying event organised by Ayr Burns Club. As midday arrived, the piper played and the company gathered to hear the Ayr Club President, Kathleen Davey, welcome everyone and explain the significance of the occasion. The wreaths and floral tributes were then laid before the company joined in a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”. As the last words were sung, the rain started to fall but too late to spoil the occasion.
The company then headed to the Market Inn where, after a longer welcome from Mrs. Davey, everyone enjoyed soup and sandwiches. This was followed by songs and poems from some of the company before Ayr Club’s Vice-President, Robbie McMahon, gave the vote of thanks.
Despite bitterly cold weather and some absentees due to ‘flu, The Brig O’ Doon House Hotel was almost full for our annual anniversary dinner. This year, it was rather special as it was the first event marking the centenary of the club becoming a member of the Robert Burns World Federation. Members and guests were piped in by the young piper, Tiegan Hartley, who also piped in the President, Andy Moynihan, the top table guests and the Haggis. The star of the banquet was addressed in grand style by the club’s Junior Vice-President, Bill Duncan before junior member, Lewis Moynihan, said Grace. The company then enjoyed a delicious meal in the stunning setting of the hotel’s banqueting hall. After coffee and petit fours were served Council member, Beth Kerr, proposed the loyal toast and the club Secretary, Tracy Moynihan, invited the company to view the kindred cards which were on display.
After a comfort break the raffle was drawn and then everyone settled down to enjoy the entertainment. The local folk group, Luath, gave another flawless performance of beautiful songs written by Burns. This set the tone for the evening which was maintained by the principal guest, Bob Cameron, whose Immortal Memory was both thought-provoking and humorous. He demonstrated how Burns works were influenced by both the social and environmental conditions of the times in which he lived. The standing ovation at the end reflected the quality of the delivery and the relevance of the content.
Junior member, Cameron Kerr, was the ideal choice to follow Bob. His polished performance of the The Soldier’s Return more than maintained the high standard of the evening. The ladies and gentlemen of the Alloway Burns Club Choir, led by Choir Mistress, Karin Stewart, and accompanied by Ann Miller then performed three pieces. Positioned on the grand staircase at one end of the room their voices soared over the guests in what was a truly professional performance. Then it was time for the Toast to the Lasses and the Reply. We were not disappointed. John Derwent duly pointed out the foibles of the fairer sex, in particular, his partner, Avril, as he proposed the toast but, as always, the ladies had the last word and Cathy Costello took full advantage of that to give the gentlemen present an even harder time. The humour in both speeches was much appreciated.
There was still time for one more set of songs from Fiona McLaren, Keith Fullerton and Bruce Kennedy, the three club members who form Luath. These, as always, were much appreciated by the audience as the sustained applause indicated. Past President, Malcolm Ferguson, proposed the Vote of Thanks before the current President, who, in his role as Master of Ceremonies, had made sure the whole evening ran smoothly, wished everyone goodnight. As always, the evening ended with the singing of Auld Lang Syne. The company left agreeing they had enjoyed an exceptional evening.