Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon-
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon!

Here is where you will find reports and photographs of all our recent events.

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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”.

St Andrew's Night

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum was the venue for the club’s annual St Andrew’s Night Dinner. After a welcome from the President, Malcolm Ferguson, the toast to Scotland and St Andrew was proposed by Senior Vice-President, Andy Moynihan, and the Grace given by Junior Vice-President, Maureen Leitch.

Having enjoyed an excellent meal the company then settled down for the evening’s entertainment, though, with almost forty folk involved in providing that entertainment (just over half the company), most couldn’t afford to get too comfortable! The theme this year was a light-hearted look at the character of the Scots. We had songs from the Club Choir, the ever-popular local folk group Luath and club member Ramsay Syme as well as piping from Stewart Gaudin and fiddle tunes from Fiona McLaren. There were poems from Brenda Clelland, Bill Duncan, Bill Kerr and Maureen Leitch and a host of members took on the roles of veterans of Scottish battles, renowned emigrants and famous foreigners. There were even appearances from the “Proclaimers” AKA Bruce Kennedy and Keith Fullerton singing “Letter from America” and a member of “Scotland the What”, although he had an uncanny similarity to the club President!

The Vote of Thanks was given by Brenda Clelland and a memorable evening was brought to a fitting conclusion with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Russians In Alloway

On Armistice Day, two young Russians, Polina Kikushina and Pavel Kereschenko, who had been successful in the Burns Federation/Russian Schools Scottish Essay Writing Competition visited Alloway. Having spent the morning at the Remembrance Service in the Primary School they then arrived at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum where a light lunch had been provided by the National Trust for Scotland for them and a number of invited guests.

Principal guest was the Russian Consul General in Scotland, Andrey Pritsepov, who attended with a colleague from the Consulate in Edinburgh. There were also representatives of the NTS, The St Petersburg Forum and our Burns Club. We were welcomed by Christopher Waddell, Learning Manager at the Museum who invited Mr Pritsepov to say a few words.

Both young people then presented their essays. Polina’s was based round the Burns’ poem “Parcel of Rogues”. She showed a real understanding of the poem and how it related to the events of the eighteenth century. Pavel&srquo;s piece was a more light-hearted look at the achievements of James Watt. Both essays were delivered in excellent English. The young people then gave their audience an illustrated talk about the history and present character of their school before describing some of the less well known attractions of their home city, St Petersburg.

Alloway Burns Club President, Malcolm Ferguson, gave the vote of thanks. The young people were then presented with gifts from the Club and from the NTS. The company finished off a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with a visit to the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre Exhibition in the Museum.

Top 10 Concert

Alloway Burns Club’s Top Ten Concert attracted a large and enthusiastic audience to Alloway Church Halls on the 28th of October. The club had carried out a poll amongst its members to identify their favourite works by the Bard as part of the launch of the Club’s new website. All of the top ten pieces in that vote and a number of others which didn’t quite make it were performed by individual club members and the Club Choir. Each performance was very warmly received by the audience.

The programme was in two parts with a break for the cutting of two birthday cakes (two members were celebrating their birthdays that night) and a light supper which included generous helpings of the aforementioned birthday cakes. The supper break also allowed time for plenty of blethers among the members and guests.

The evening finished with a rousing chorus of Auld lang Syne (number 6 in the Top Ten). The full list of the pieces in the Top Ten can be found on the front page of the website and details of all our forthcoming events on the Upcoming Events page.

St Petersburg Stars

The three young Russians who were successful in the St Petersburg Forum “Knowledge of Scotland” competition visited Alloway on the 23rd of September. Their day started with a visit to the Varyag Memorial at Lendalfoot with Past Presidents, Margaret and John Skilling. Then in the afternoon, Senior Vice-president Andy Moynihan, gave them a guided tour of the locations in Alloway most closely associated with the Bard.

After a meal with Council member, Beth Kerr, the visitors arrived at Alloway Church Halls where President, Malcolm Ferguson, warmly welcomed them to Alloway Burns Club. The sixty members and friends, who filled the venue, quickly realised why the evening had been advertised as “St Petersburg Stars”. The three young people gave outstandingly amusing, entertaining and energetic preformances.

Firstly Gregory Katsenelson gave an excellent account of the life of Greenock born James Watt and his connections to Russia. Then Aleksey Kruchinin had everyone laughing as he retold the story of iron and steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. After the supper break, Kira Usatenko enthralled the company as she retold the story of Tam o’ Shanter from the viewpoint of his horse, Meg. All three young people then completed their contribution to the evening with a traditional Russian folksong.

In between these performances, a number of the club’s own stars performed songs. recitations and musical items including some from three of our junior members, Cameron Kerr and Calum and Rebecca Hannah. After the vote of thanks from Junior Vice-president Maureen Leitch, the evening finished with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne. We wished our Russian friends a safe journey home as they left Alloway each with the gift from the Club of a book on Burns.

Inter-Club Night

A warm sunny August evening was perfect for Alloway Burns Club’s annual inter-club night. It is difficult to tell whether it was the prospect of Susan Searle’s delicious Clootie Dumplings, Rebecca Hannah’s melt-in-the-mouth shortbread or the wonderful range of entertainment on offer which brought so many to Alloway Village Hall on Friday the 26th. of August. Whatever the reason almost seventy members and friends and an excellent turn-out from other clubs filled the venue.

The evening was compered by Junior Vice-president Maureen Leitch. While Burns songs and poems were well represented, including a contribution from the Club Choir and a memorable rendition of Holy Willie’s Prayer by Past President Hugh Farrell, there was a wide range of other musical and poetic contributions. A rousing song from Australia and a humorous retelling of the Battle of Hastings were among the eclectic mix of performances. As always a thoroughly enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Wreath Laying Ceremony

It was a wet Sunday morning for the annual wreath laying at the monument at Alloway. Despite that, there was a very good turn out of club members and representatives from other Burns’ clubs and organisations. Young piper, Daniel Nicol, led the company to the monument from the gathering point outside Alloway Church and once inside, club President, Malcolm Ferguson, thanked him, welcomed everyone to the event and said a few words about the continuing significance of the works of Burns in the world today.

Wreaths were then laid by;

Alison Wilson, National Trust for Scotland
Mary Kilpatrick, Depute Provost, South Ayrshire Council
Jimmy Gibson, Robert Burns World Federation and Prestwick Burns Club
Annie Small, Ayrshire Association of Burns Clubs
Kathleen Davey, Ayr Burns Club
Cynthia Leitch, Irvine Lasses Burns Club
Isobel Lynn, Kilmarnock Howff Burns Club
Malcolm Ferguson, Alloway Burns Club

Alison Wilson, who is the coordinator of the volunteers at the RBBM, spoke about the renovation of the monument, the present situation as regards funding and the timescale for the work. Sean McGlashan, Curator at the museum, spoke about his work and his admiration for Burns. There were also short speeches from Mr Gibson and Mrs Kilpatrick. The ceremony concluded with the company joining in the last verse of “A Man’s a Man” before being piped by Daniel to the Museum for a light lunch kindly provided by the National Trust for Scotland.

Friendship Evening

Almost 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. While the skies were somewhat gloomy, the mood of the company was not and the rain that had been threatening all day never appeared. Two young musicians, Cameron May on the pipes and his sister, Zoe, on the side drum, welcomed the company to the cottage grounds. These talented youngsters will be heading to St Petersburg in 2018 as part of the St Petersburg Forum delegation. Most of the money raised in the raffle held in the course of the evening was donated to help sponsor their trip.

Once everyone had been served wine or soft drinks, the club President, Malcolm Ferguson, welcomed the company, particularly the guests and visitors to the club, and explained the significance of the event. Then he and the principal guest, Helen Morrison, laid a single red rose in the window of Burns Cottage while Cameron played a slow air. Helen, who is one of the leading Burnsians in Scotland and a key member of the St Petersburg Forum committee, then spoke of the role Burns’ childhood and upbringing in Alloway had in influencing his work and his life and how fitting a place the cottage of his birth was to remember his premature death. The first part of the evening ended with one of the club’s junior members, Calum Hannah, reciting Willie Wastle with great enthusiasm and humour.

The company then made its way across to Alloway Village Hall, where, after an excellent buffet meal supplied by the Poet’s Corner and shortbread and tablet from Council members Gillian Hannah and Beth Kerr, they settled down for sangs and clatter hosted by Senior Vice-president Andy Moynihan. There was plenty of songs, poems and musical items, much laughter and perhaps the occasional tear in the eye before the evening was brought to an end by the vote of thanks from Junior Vice-president Maureen Leitch and a traditional rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

Tarbouton: In The Footsteps Of Burns

With temperatures in the mid 20s and clear blue skies it seemed that Alloway Burns Club had headed to the Mediterranean for its annual outing. It was, however, just a normal early June day in Tarbolton which had been the nearest village to the Burns family when they farmed at Lochlea from 1777 to 1784.

Forty nine members and friends gathered at the Black Bull Restaurant in the village for a delightful lunch and plenty of animated conversation before heading off in three groups to visit two significant buildings and enjoy a tour of the village with the club’s own Tarbouton Laddie, Development Officer, Bruce Kennedy.

The first destination was the Masonic Lodge. While the present building was not constructed in Burns time, he was a member of the Lodge in the village and held a significant position in that organisation. Many artefacts and memorabilia associated with Burns are held within the premises and these were on display and explained to the club members by two gentlemen from the lodge. Both did an excellent job and the Burns Club members were made to feel very welcome.

Next was the Bachelors’ Club. This building does date from the time of Burns and is where he and some of the other young men of the village including his brother, Gilbert, came to enjoy lively discussions. The building is now in the care of the NTS and the current curator gave a very interesting account of its history and especially how it was used in Burns’ time.

The final element of the tour was a walk around the village visiting a number of locations associated with Burns and referred to in some of his works. These locations included the site of Manson's Inn, a Hostelry frequented by Burns; and the home of the Schoolmaster John Wilson who became the subject of the satirical poem Death and Doctor Hornbook. However a highlight for many was the visit to the ancient Motte and Bailey known locally as Hood’s Hill and the stunning view it offers of many places and locations frequented by Burns.

Despite the blistering heat it was a very enjoyable day and a huge thank you is due to Club Treasurer, Allan Menzies, who did all the arrangements with the Black Bull and our Development Officer, Bruce Kennedy, who not only acted as tour guide but also arranged the visits to the Lodge and the Bachelors’ Club.

Our Club Juniors Do Well

On Saturday 23rd April, The Robert Burns World Federation held its annual National Secondary Schools Festival when Ayrshire Secondary Schools were well represented. The Festival moves round Scotland each year and this year the venue was St George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh.

Those young students who were placed in the Ayrshire Association Competitions, held this year in Prestwick Academy, were invited to represent the county at the National Finals in 3 disciplines, i.e. Verse Speaking, Singing and Instrumental and at 3 levels, i.e. S1/2, S3/4 and S5/6.

Each year, at the National Festival, a trophy is awarded to the ‘Best Overall Competitor’ in each of the disciplines. This year Cameron Kerr, an S4 pupil at Belmont Academy and a junior member of Alloway Burns Club, gained this award in Verse Speaking.

There are also ‘Best Team Awards’ awarded to the Scottish District which gained most points following their performances. This year the results were;

  • Best Overall Team in Verse Speaking - Ayrshire
  • Best Overall Team in Singing - Fife
  • Best Overall Team in Instrumental - West Lothian

Two of Ayrshire’s winners in Verse Speaking who contributed to the team’s total appear in the photograph below along with representatives of the Burns Federation (RBWF). They are: L to R: Withheld, Cameron Kerr, Belmont Academy 1st in S3/4 and Best Overall Verse Speaker, (Mr Ian McIntyre, Sen Vice President, RBWF), Sophie Craig, Wellington School 3rd in S3/4. (Mr Jim Thomson, Past President, RBWF), Withheld.

Sophie like Cameron is a junior member of Alloway Burns Club.

The Burns Federation’s National Festival for Primary Schools takes place in Edinburgh on Saturday 7th May when we hope for more Ayrshire winners.

Youth Night

A very successful youth night was held in Alloway Church Hall, where an extremely talented group of youngsters sang, recited and played various musical instruments.

The evening kicked off with piper Daniel Nicol, an S1 from Belmont Academy, who plays in Alloway BB Pipe Band and won his class at the AABC regional competition and will represent Ayrshire in the Nationals. He played an excellent foot tapping set.

We had recitations from a variety of Alloway Primary pupils including: Mitchell Jardine, a P2 , who was returning for his second year to delight us with his lively rendition of Robin Reidbreist; Patrick McLaughlin a P7, who is studying acting, and gave a spirited performance of To A Louse and Molly MacLelland, another P7 who delivered an animated version of Address to the Toothache.

We also had excellent humorous and lively recitations from two of our own junior members, both pupils at Alloway Primary and who had recited for us last year: Calum and Rebecca Hannah. Calum recited a spirited version of Willie Wastle, while his sister Rebecca entertained us with Auld Farrant by JK Annand.

A particular treat was Ross Bryant ‐ a 10 year old from Kilwinning ‐ who played the violin as if he had been born to it and entertained us with two lively medleys.

Another musical treat was from Quattro, who played a lovely selection of tunes including Lord of The Dance. This, again, was a repeat performance from the string quartet ‐ Neved, Sam, Katy and Morven ‐ who, although still in Secondary School, have been playing together for 6 years!

For singers, we had a trio of extremely talented youngsters who are all trophy winners from the Ayrshire Music Festival and competed for the overall best in Festival Trophy. Firstly, Calum McCandless, who sings with the National Youth Choir of Scotland and plays violin with NYOS. In addition to singing a beautiful Burns song, he sang in German and accompanied himself on the piano.

Then we had another very talented singer, who is studying voice and French, Ines Mayhew-Begg who gave us an exquisite and emotional rendition of John Anderson My Jo.

Finally, we had a flawless performance from Sophie Craig ‐ another junior member of Alloway Burns Club ‐ who has delighted us with her singing in the past and this was no exception!

Last but never least, we had outstanding recitations from our most weel kent Junior Member: Cameron Kerr. Another multiple Trophy winner ‐ both at the Ayrshire Music Festival and in the Burns world, Cameron recited The Dumfries Volunteers and a humorous poem by Edward Lear.

The standard of performance was extremely high and everyone who attended was impressed by the confidence and talent of the youngsters.

Headstones And Tales

There was good turn out of club members for our penultimate event of this session. The interesting title reflected the content of the two presentations which formed the main part of the evening. Firstly, Past President Margaret Skilling took us on a tour of the graveyards associated with Burns, his ancestors, his descendants and his friends and associates. Inevitably this concentrated on various burial sites in Ayrshire but Dumfries, East Lothian and the ancient county of Kincardineshire were also visited. It was a fascinating journey and the quality of Mrs. Skilling’s presentation and research were clear to see.

After the Headstones part of the evening, members and friends enjoyed the supper break and a delightful selection of home-baking provided by the members of Council. At the same time, they were able to view some of the fascinating artefacts which the club holds, including the Glenriddell Manuscript borrowed back from the safe-keeping of the National Trust for Scotland for this event. Mrs. Skilling has taken on the role of Club Archivist and has carefully catalogued all our treasures. The Council has also organised the framing of some of the documents which were in danger of being damaged unless remedial action was taken. These were also on display.

The second part of the event explored the Tales. Another of our Past Presidents, Martin Cassidy, told us of the links between Burns and the City of Glasgow. This was a wide-ranging and well-researched presentation laced inevitably with large chunks of Cassidy humour. From Bonnie Prince Charlie to Alex Ferguson and dozens of personalities in between, Martin managed somehow to link them all to Burns.

The evening finished with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne, led by the Alloway Burns Club Choir.

Primary Seven Burns Supper

On Wednesday 3rd of February, Alloway Burns Club joined forces with Ayr Burns Club and South Ayrshire Council to organise a Primary Seven Burns Supper in County Hall, Ayr. In the past this event had been run by Ayr Burns Club for a limited number of schools from the southern part of Ayr town but this year’s event involved far more educational establishments. Representatives from all nineteen Primary Schools, which are associated with Ayr’s Secondary Schools, were invited to attend and they were all there on the night. Senior pupils from the five High Schools acted as facilitators at each table and two senior students from Kyle Academy skilfully chaired the event. Everything else from the piping to the speeches to the entertainment was done by the Primary Seven young people. All the schools played their part fully in what was a wonderful and quite emotional night.

Wreath Laying Ceremony

On the Bard’s birthday, the Club President along with the Secretary and two of our Past Presidents represented the club at the commemoration ceremony at the statue in Burns’ Statue Square in Ayr. As might have been expected on that day, the company had to withstand a number of “blasts o’ Janwar win’”.

1759 Celebrations

The afternoon of the 24th saw the club put on its “A Lad Frae Kyle” concert in Alloway Parish Church. This was a tribute to the influence of his native county, its people, landscape and traditions to the songs and poetry of the Bard. An enthusiastic audience of about 200 enjoyed the efforts of a large number of club members singing and reciting a wide variety of Burns’ works as well as pieces from Alloway Burns Club Choir and the always popular contributions of our friends in the local folk group Luath.

Anniversary Dinner

The week-end of Burns’ birthday was a busy one for our Burns Club. The programme of events started on Saturday evening with our Anniversary Dinner in the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel. After the President, Malcolm Ferguson, had welcomed the company and introduced his companions at the top table, the haggis was piped in by Sam Donnelly and addressed in fine form by Karin Stewart. The company then enjoyed a three course meal followed by coffee and petit fours before Sophie Craig entertained the company with two beautiful Burns’ songs. Senior Vice-president, Andy Moynihan, then gave the Loyal Toast and Club Secretary, Myra McLanaghan, her remarks before we had a short break. After the interval the entertainment really got under way with songs from the Alloway Burns Club Choir, recitation from Brenda Clelland, Bill Duncan and Maureen Leitch and, of course, the speeches. Dr Rhona Brown from the University of Glasgow gave a thought-provoking and very personal Immortal Memory. The Rev. Neil McNaught, in a very humorous speech, toasted and insulted the lasses in equal measure before Julie Griffiths replied in the same vein. Andy Moynihan, gave an amusing Vote of Thanks which included the presentation of gifts to the principal speakers before the choir concluded the evening with the traditional singing of “Auld Lang Syne”.