Members of the Board

The Robert Burns World Federation is managed by a Board of volunteer Directors, who are also Trustees made up as follows:

Members of the Board for the period 2021 - 22 are as follows:

The Robert Burns World Federation Ltd is managed by a Board of unpaid, volunteer,  Directors, made up as follows:

Three office-bearers

President - Henry Cairney -

Henry is an Ayrshire man and went to school in Irvine attending Loudon Primary, Loudon Montgomery and Irvine Royal Academy. He also spent many years before moving to Canada as a musician, playing accordion and keyboards in various bands, playing and singing many of Robert Burn’s songs in many settings including Burns suppers. He arranges and composes the songs for the Calgary Burns Club Singers. He retired in August 2018 as a Director of Engineering from Suncor Energy in Calgary Alberta Canada after 47 years in engineering, with the last 32 years in various management roles. He is a Life member of Irvine Burns Club, a member of Medicine Hat Burns Club, President of the Calgary Burns Club for a second time and is President of the Robert Burns Association of North America (RBANA). He is also the compiler, publisher and Editor-in chief of the Calgary Burns Club’s ‘Calgary Clavers’ newsletter.

Henry has been married to Shona for the past 47 years, and they have a son and a daughter and 5 grandchildren.

SVP - Alan Beck -

Alan studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and won many singing prizes and awards.

He made his operatic début in 1990 for Scottish Opera and moved on to Opera Ireland. He was a principal tenor with the State Opera, Stuttgart from 1996 to 2002, and has also sung principal tenor roles for Lyric Opera Dublin, the Carl Rosa Opera and English National Opera. In 2003, Alan formed the Scottish three-tenor group, Caledon and since then he has sung all over the world for Burns Clubs and Scottish Societies.

Alan has taught singing for many years in organisations such as the Junior Royal Northern College of Music, the Junior Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Youth Choir of Scotland. He is currently the Vocal Coach for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus.  

Alan has always been a great admirer of Burns and has delivered the Immortal Memory numerous times each year since 2005. He has been singing Burns for 45 years and cannot count the number of events where he has performed the Bard’s songs. 

Alan served as President of The Greenock Burns Club from 2019 – 2020. As President he launched a campaign to have a statue of Burns erected in Greenock and commissioned HM’s Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland to create a maquette of his vision. Alan is keenly interested in researching Burns and has a particular interest in the creation of the Burns Movement. 

Junior Vice President – Neil

Neil's interest in Burns was fired in the early 1980s when I was working in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. My office had an exit door into Anchor Close, where the Burns Edinburgh edition was printed. I spent a great deal of my spare time exploring Edinburgh and the sites connected with Burns.

In the late eighties I moved to London to pursue my career. I was extremely fortunate to meet the late Alex Wilson (1923-2013), who introduced me to the Caledonian Club, which I subsequently joined, and am still a member. Alex also introduced me to the Caledonian Society of London, I became a member in 1994, President in 2007 and have been Secretary since 2016.

Alex was also President of the Burns Club of London (No1 on the Federation Roll). I joined as a Life member in 1993. In 1994 I was invited to join the Club Committee for the planning of the 1996 bi-centenary celebrations. Also on the same committee were two future Presidents of the Robert Burns World Federation, the late Moira Rennie Dunsmore (President 1997-8) and Mike Duguid (President 2009-10). In 2019-20 I became President of the Burns Club of London.

In the late eighties, as Head of Global IT for a 400 person company I was working to deliver competitive advantage using IT, to major blue-chip companies around the world. At the turn of the century I worked as part of product marketing at BT Genie to develop and deploy the first mobile internet and SMS/Text messaging service.  There followed a decade of customer facing roles in bid management providing the IT expertise to large global outsource deals.

I retired from full-time work in 2018. I live in Hertfordshire, twenty five minutes from Kings Cross by train.

Thematic Committee Conveners and one Non-Executive Director

Marketing Convener – Neil

Heritage Convener – John Hannah -

Education Convener – Beth Kerr -

Literature Convener – Mike Duguid -

Mike Duguid is a retired RAF Wing Commander who now lives in Twynholm, Dumfries and Galloway. He grew up in Banchory, Kincardineshire and, after school in Aberdeen, he joined the RAF in 1964 and served for 37 years as an aeronautical engineer.  

It was a posting to Omaha, Nebraska, in 1989 that launched his involvement with organizing and speaking at Burns Suppers.  He organized and chaired several Burns Suppers on behalf of the Scottish Society of Nebraska.  On returning from America, he became an active member of the Burns Club of London.  He was heavily involved in the club’s Robert Burns bi-centenary celebrations in 1996. 

After retiring from the RAF in 2001 he became a full-time student and gained a first class Honours degree in Scottish Studies at Glasgow University.  Mike is President of the Gatehouse of Fleet Burns Club and is a Past President of the Dumfries and Galloway Burns Association.  

Mike was President of the Robert Burns World Federation during the special Year of Homecoming in 2009/10. He is the Convener of the Literature Committee and is also the Editor of the Federation’s very popular bi-monthly newsletter.   

Mike has been married to his wife Pat for 49 years and they have two sons and two daughters and seven grandchildren.     

Events/Conference Convener – Marc Sherland & Margaretann Dougall -

Finance Director - Kenneth Dalgleish -

Now retired, Ken is a well known figure in the Scottish recruitment industry and was founder of Munro Consulting in 1998 and co-founder of Aspen People in 2012. He continues to act as Strategic Advisor in his capacity as Non-Executive Board Member. He is a qualified Career and Leadership Executive Coach. Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1977 he has international audit experience with KPMG before becoming Finance Director at the adventure clothing brand North Face.

Ken was introduced to the works of Robert Burns at the age of 9 by his enthusiastic primary school teacher Mrs McCormack in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. Learning to recite To a Mouse led to a lifelong interest in the works of Burns.

His interest in Robert Burns was renewed in 1978 when researching for the Immortal Memory speech at the Caledonian Society of Jamaica annual Burns Supper. He is particularly interested in Burns heritage and how it impacts on education, tourism and economic development. He followed family members into the Glasgow Haggis Club in 1998, becoming President in 2009. He is a member of the Executive Committee as Treasurer. He has served on the committee of Glasgow & District Burns Association since 2011, initially as a Representative for the Haggis Club, becoming Treasurer and Secretary in 2015 and President in 2018. He remains on the Executive Committee as Treasurer.

Married to Lynn, Ken lives in Kilmacolm, close to daughter Amy and amazing grandchildren Alex and Penny.

Publicity & Comms - Trekker Armstrong -

Trekker is a third generation Canadian colony Scot whose great grandfather came over from Dumfries, Scotland in 1845.  Retired from a North American Energy Company [TC Energy] as an Information Systems Professional after thirty-four years.

Trekker progressed through various executive roles to assume the Calgary Burns Club Presidency for 2017-2018.  In his capacity as Calgary Burns Club President he attended the 2017 RBWF Conference in Pebbles Scotland. Over his tenure on the Calgary Burns Club board, he has had the pleasure of hosting a number of RBWF members at his home. 

Trekker holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary specializing in Management Information Systems.  He is a Fellow of the Canadian Information Processing Society, as well as maintains an Information Systems Professional (ISP) ret., ITCP, IP3P accreditation.

Married to Janet Armstrong with three adult children.  He comes from an aviation family and continues to enjoy recreational flying.

Human Relations - Iain T Gordon -

Born in Pollok, Glasgow in 1960, Iain started working as a trainee Civil Engineer before joining Strathclyde Police in 1979, initially posted to Govan. His interest with Burns started at school but was rekindled in the early 1980s whilst attending numerous Police Burns Suppers, being asked to speak at a Police Burns Supper in 1994. He has now spoken at over 200 Burns Suppers throughout the UK and Ireland as well as the Halifax Burns Club in Nova Scotia. He is generally posted missing from home from early January to the beginning of March each year.

Rising through the ranks of the Police and working in many areas of Strathclyde, including Govan, Greenock and Saltcoats,  Iain was appointed Head of the Police Media Office and was involved in many high-profile cases. Latterly he was in Charge of Specialist Operations at Force Headquarters in Glasgow having responsibility for many departments including the Support Unit, Firearms Unit, Road Policing and VIP Protection. He was also Ground Commander at Ibrox Stadium home of the famous Glasgow Rangers. He retired from Strathclyde Police in 2010.

He is the past Secretary of Bridgeton Burns Club, the largest in the world,  and was President of the Club during the 150th Anniversary when almost 600 guests attended the Anniversary Dinner held at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on 25th January 2020. He is also a member of  The Greenock Burns Club (The Mother Club) and the Thistle Burns Club. Iain is currently a Trustee with the Jean Armour Burns Trust. 

Married to Alison, Iain lives in the southside of Glasgow, has a Son and Daughter and became a doting Grandpa in December 2020 with the arrival of his beautiful granddaughter, Lexie. 

Non-Executive Director

Membership & Volunteering & Chair of Membership Task-Force - Alan Beck -

Three International Directors

Canada – Ronnie O'Byrne -

Ronnie recently retired, having spent the past years managing the Canadian subsidiary of Israeli engineering technology company, ISCAR Ltd, now owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. 

His career began in the heavy industrial machine shops of Scotland, and after joining ISCAR in 1986, Ronnie quickly established an enviable track record that developed into Marketing and Senior Management positions in Scotland, Ireland and England, with a final move to Canada in 2007. 

Ronnie’s main summer hobby is golf, where he maintains a low single figure handicap. His other main interest is in the world of poetry, performance poetry, and Scottish and Irish history. 

Ronnie has performed at Burns Suppers all over the UK, Ireland, Europe and North America as a speaker on a wide range of Burns topics and as a performer of Burns poetry and song. He is a past winner of the Tam O’Shanter recital trophy held annually at the Globe Inn, Dumfries.

Ronnie is the Robert Burns World Federation (RBWF) Canadian Director, a Board Member of RBWF and of the Robert Burns Association of North America (RBANA). He is a member of three Burns Clubs in Canada.

He has been married to Susan for 42 years. They have two grown up sons and live in St Catharines, Ontario. 

U.S.A. – Leslie Strachan -

Leslie was born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland  near the birthplace of  Robert Burns and grew up in the same countryside that he knew  so well. Like all Scottish children I was introduced to the works of Burns at a very early age and all through school. I literally learned my first poem at the knees of my mother, an actress, who insisted I learn and recite properly. My father was a great one for quoting Burns and telling wonderful Burns "tales"

I joined the British Army when I was fifteen and served almost seven years, Burns may not have been in the forefront of my life during those times as I pursued other interests, but he was never far away.

I continued to read and study the works and life of the Bard and started giving talks, I M’s and "performing" recitations to groups and Scottish Societies in the early 80's and have continued on with a lifelong love of the Poet.

I moved to the United States and married my wife Nancy in 1973, we have lived in Bedford Virginia in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains since 1974. We have run our own business for almost 25 years. I have been an individual member of the RBWF since 1994 and RBANA since 1999

Since 2012 I have been the USA Director of the Robert Burns World Federation, and served on the board as a USA representative to RBANA for over ten years.

Pacific Rim – John Menzies -

John grew up[sort of] in a small country town in SouthWest Victoria, close to where he currently lives and works.

Like much of rural Victoria it was imbued with Scottish influences- Scottish famil y and place names, a Pipe Band, Caledonian Society, Highland and Scottish Country Dance groups, Church and Sunday School, much of which continues albeit in a less dominant form as even rural areas reflect the changing make up of Australia subsequent to modern migration. He is currently a back rank piper in a grade 4 Pipe Band and engaged in preparations for Camperdown`s annual Robert Burns Scottish Festival. His faithful wife accommodates these eccentricities as do some of his four children. 

Additional Director

Archivist – Bill Dawson -

I have been a Burns enthusiast for over fifty years and developed this into a significant hobby shortly thereafter building a significant personal library with many Burns texts including some significant rarities. I was President of the Robert Burns World Federation in the Homecoming year of 2009 which included numerous unique landmark occasions.

I have travelled widely in pursuit of my Burns interests developing many friendly relationships including with world leading academics.  

In recent years I have obsessed into a total Burns nut 25:8. Bill is also Editor of the Chronicle - Bill Dawson -

Past President - Marc Sherland -

Marc became a Burnsian by accident, well not quite true, he has always been a Burns enthusiast, but not a formal member of a Burns Club until 2016, when he was cajoled by then President Calum Cormack to join the Cumbernauld and District Burns Club. That Marc had gone on to other things in the Burns movement is probably an understatement. He is currently Senior Vice President of three Burns organisations as well as providing secretarial support for a number of clubs.

Born in Kent in 1956, Marc moved to Scotland when he was two years old. He is self employed and has been since 1990, though if you find him staring at your jewellery don’t be too alarmed, he is probably appraising it, as he started out as an assistant manager in 'H Samuel' the jeweller.

Marc ran an entertainment business for many years and was a DJ, who provided karaoke and MCs to many Scottish venues. He is also a performance poet, writer and folklorist, with stories, poems and factual articles in print and was both founder of the Federation of Writers (Scotland) and later the President of the Scottish Association of Writers.

In 2019 he designed three early learning packs on Robert Burns and the Scottish Leid for use in Schools, during Schools Competitions and for Burns Clubs. These will be available from the RBWF website in the near future.