President’s Blog – December 2017

‘The blude red rose at Yule may blaw,

The simmer lilies bloom in snaw,

The frost may freeze the deepest sea,

But an’ auld man shall never daunton me.

(To Daunton Me 1787)


There is very little reference to Yuletide or Christmas in Burns writings, not surprisingly given the stance of the Kirk post reformation, even for a relatively moderate protestant like Burns.

As I signed off from my November blog, I was preparing to go out to the Howff Club on St Andrew’s Night to propose the toast to Auld Scotia.  There is something very intimidating but at the same time rewarding about speaking at your home club!  I received a very warm welcome from President Colin Gibson and club members. The company of David Smith is always a bonus to any occasion.  A super night was had by all with exceptional talent in the form of Willie Horn and local musicians, Doug Carroll and Kenny Hilsley.

I get positive feedback on a St Andrew’s Day article I wrote for the local paper, The Galloway News.  Any publicity about the RBWF is good publicity, and free!

Moira and I visit Greenock Burns Club, ‘The Mother Cub’ on the evening of Friday December 1st.We are warmly welcomed by President Jamie Donnelly, V.P. June Forbes and Secretary Margaret Dickson.  The occasion is the opening of the Burns exhibition and display room in the newly refurbished Custom House.  The waterfront area is undergoing regeneration and the 200 year old building has been sympathetically restored.  The exhibition is of the highest standard, complete with interpretation boards and a small library.  I would recommend a visit!  Again the welcome and hospitality received was humbling indeed.

Moira and I attended the St Andrew’s Day Service in St Giles in the company of David Smith and Colin Gibson.  There was a good turnout of RBWF members on the day , including JVP Brian Goldie and his wife Joyce.  We have been fortunate enough to attend a number of these services which are a colourful and memorable spectacle.

I have speakers in place for The Incorporated Trades Burns Supper I help run in Kirkcudbright in February.  Ben Durham, the winner of the Junior Address to the Haggis competition run by the RBWF has agreed to perform for us on the night.

Locally, I attend the Dumfries and Galloway Burns Association quarterly meeting which is held in Kirkcudbright for the first time.  President Gordon Halliday welcomed the delegates and reminded the meeting that 2018 will be the Kirkcudbright Burns Club’s centenary year. The number of member clubs in Dumfries and Galloway stands at 17 which is pretty good for such a rural area.  We take the opportunity to distribute the new membership forms which receive a positive response.  All we need is to get a few hundred back now!

The signage is in place at our new premises in John Dickie Street in Kilmarnock at last! Handover will take place at the end of January with us being fully moved by the end of February.  Exciting times indeed.

I have written the foreword for a beautifully illustrated book aimed at teaching Scots to 3-7 year olds.  I attend two book signings and the production is being very well received.  The author is Susi Briggs and the artist Ruthie Redden and is titled ‘Nip Nebs’.  A story about Jack Frost.  A quality production which I hope we shall have available in our new premises.  Susi’s inspiration incidentally was Wilson Ogilvie, her former Head Teacher Past President of the RBWF and distinguished Burnsian.

I had a very kind invitation to attend Irvine Lasses St Andrew’s Night this month which I had to pull out of at fairly short notice due to inclement weather.  Bill Nolan stood in for me and reported back on a most enjoyable and successful evening with generous hospitality.

Once again, the President’s load is lightened by the wise counsel, guidance and help from Margaretann and Bev.  Without these ladies, my job would be impossible.  Thank you both.

As we move rapidly to Christmas and a New Year, may I wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.