A COMPANY of more than 210 members and guests of Arbroath Burns Club was welcomed by president Frank Ferguson to the annual Burns Supper in the Meadowbank on Friday to celebrate the 252nd anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.
The principal toast of the evening was proposed by Dr Ian D. Duncan, from Glamis.
His fine speech portrayed the Bard as the popstar of his age, commenting on his status as the Jack of Hearts of his time with his long hair, the hype he endured, the tours of the country, his sexual exploits, the groupies, the drugs, the alcohol, the exploitation by his publisher and his early death.
He also reminded his audience that during late January each year over one million people celebrate the Bard all around the world. Dr Duncan continued in prose, verse and song to entertain and inform the company of the ‘Burns effect’ both nationally and internationally. He was accorded a standing ovation at the end of his toast.
The President proposed the Toast to ‘Our Guest ‘ thanking Dr Duncan on behalf of the Club and presented him with a Quaich as a memento of his Immortal Memory.
Mr James Aitken, Newburgh, Fife, treated the gathering to his unique rendition of ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ accompanied by Tam’s trusty Nag Meg and other props which thoroughly entranced the members and was greeted with applause and another standing ovation.
Vice-president Dr Rusty Smith performed ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ to much acclaim. The evening’s Toast to the Lasses was given by well known Burns speaker Dr Peter Hughes who was making a return visit to Arbroath. As chief executive of Scottish Engineering, Dr Hughes is a very busy speaker not just in Scotland but all over the UK.
He addressed ‘The Lasses’ with consummate wit and displayed an extensive knowledge of the Bard to the delight of his listeners. He also introduced a fine singing voice to his toast which added to the entertainment.
The task of replying to the Toast to the Lasses was ably undertaken by Rory Anderson, from Tayport. He not only had to defend the honour of the ladies but had to do so under the watchful eyes of his father-in-law, Tony Treger, immediate past president of the club. He accomplished both tasks with an ease and dry wit which was a fine riposte to the original toast.
The Selkirk Grace was said for the second time by Andrew Welsh MSP a regular guest at the supper who was again asked to work for his supper.
Past-president Ken Smith opened the formal part of the evening by addressing the haggis which was carried by committee member Dale Hatton and piped in by the piper Michael Thain.
Michael also played the lament after the Toast to the Immortal Memory. Secretary Peter Black advised members that he had exchanged greetings with over 45 Burns Clubs throughout the world. He confirmed to the members that the next celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the bard would be held on January 27 next year.
The club was reminded of the superb songs of Burns by singers Douglas Cant, Alan Mowatt and Eck Whitton who sang ‘Wullie brewed a Peck o’ Maut’. The singers also led the company in ‘Green grow the Rashes O’ and the ‘Star O’ Rabbie Burns’. Accompanist was Johnston Ralston and musical arranger was Alan Mowatt.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Alan Ripley who not only praised and thanked all who had performed so well on the evening but also thanked Niall Milne and his staff for providing such an enjoyable meal for the members and their guests.