President Brian Goldie hosted Falkirk Burns Club’s 2014 ‘Toast to the Bard’ in the Park Hotel.
His welcome to members and top table guests was followed by a tribute to the late Jim Watt, former stalwart member and past president, who died suddenly in November.
A respectful minute’s silence in Jim’s memory was observed before Brian gave the traditional ‘Selkirk Grace’ and the haggis was ceremoniously dispatched by Willie Gibson, president of Higginsneuk Burns Club.
Following the meal and an interval of traditional music and song provided by local Scottish folk group White Rose, a stirring speech to toast the immortal memory of Burns was delivered by principal speaker and local man Jim Mein, a member of the Wheatsheaf Burns Club and even more significantly one of the elite group of 37 – one member for every year of Burns’ life – which makes up the prestigious Guild of Robert Burns Speakers.
Brian Paterson of the Tryst Theatre Group delivered recitations of ‘To A Mouse’ and ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ before Willie Gibson gave his interpretation of ‘Handsome Nell’, the poem written for Burns’ first love Nellie Kilpatrick when he was just 15 and his first venture into rhyme.
Piper Tommy Couper and White Rose entertained during the next ‘comfort breaks’ before retired police superintendent John Haining from Glasgow, another member of the Guild of Burns Speakers, gave the Toast to Scotland which was a delighful mix of the serious and funny and a great addition to the proceedings. The vote of thanks at the end of an excellent evening came from Garry Watt, the son of the former president, and the toast to ‘Our Guests’ proposed by club member David Barclay and enjoyed by all including retired Falkirk businessman and past president Ronny Mayes who was attending his 58th dinner as a member of the club.