As we all now know, the outbreak of COVID-19 has certainly disrupted our programme of events, meetings and most recently the RBWF schools national finals. It was indeed a great pity given that we had a number of kids from the Allanton Jolly Beggars group of winners who were eligible firstly to take part in the LABC area competition and in consequence the federation finals. It was a hard decision to take but the safety of the children and their parents and grandparents had to take priority.


When we look at things in the order of keeping to the Scottish Government guidelines on gatherings and social distancing you can all imagine that to attempt to take the competitions to their conclusion would have been an impossible task and while I realise that so many people including my wife Joyce as schools convener put so much work and so many hours of preparation into the organisation of the schools event I can only sympathise with them.


On a personal basis, we have had many cancellations including our trip to the RBANA conference in Atlanta which is a big disappointment given that I wanted to attend as president but I’m sure I’ll get over it.


The office in Kilmarnock is closed for the foreseeable future with Anne the new office manager working from home.


For those of you who may think that the board are sitting back enjoying the peace and quiet, the reality could not be further from the truth. The business is still there to be run and we are currently taking steps with the addition of on line meetings in order that we keep in touch and ensure that the membership is up to date with what is going on.


I have embarked on a wee programme of displaying photos from albums and attaching the poem which in my opinion is relatively close to the picture. I have attached a number of favourites which I hope have been well received. I would like to encourage you all to give it a go with your own ideas so let’s see the budding photographers and poets go to work. As an alternative, why not attempt a verse of your own?


Closer to our own clubs, I am happy to say that it is a pleasure to be involved with the AJB group, Denny Cross Burns Club and Falkirk Burns Club and look forward to the time that we will once again be in a position to have our regular meetings and conversation in the conviviality of good company and friendship.


I continue to keep in touch with the global group of Burns’ enthusiasts and while it is heartening to be reminded that we are all participants in a common cause it is sad that the human race is facing an unprecedented catastrophe in the form of the COVID-19 virus which is taking so much of a toll in terms of cancellations of events and meetings but more seriously we are losing good friends and colleagues during the pandemic. I would ask you all to take a minute to reflect on the personalities of the members we have met and socialised with who we will unfortunately never see again.


As we continue into our third month of lockdown let us be thankful that for the most part we are hale, hearty and keeping safe and while I prepare for my last few weeks in post I would like to thank you all for your friendship and hospitality.