Falkirk Bairn to fly the flag for the Bard in New York

Expert Burns speaker Jim Mein who will deliver the Immortal Memory at the Burns Society of the City of New York on January 22
Expert Burns speaker Jim Mein who will deliver the Immortal Memory at the Burns Society of the City of New York on January 22

A Rabbie Burns expert has a VIP appointment to toast the National Bard – over 3000 miles away in America!

Jim Mein from Falkirk will fly to New York later this month when the famous city’s Burns Society celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet.

The retired boss of a wedding car hire firm will deliver the Immortal Memory at a Burns Supper being hosted by the society in the prestigious Tennis And Racket Club on Fifth Avenue on January 22.

He will be keeping an appointment in the ‘Big Apple’ made in 2014 when the highly respected Guild of Burns Speakers was invited to send a representative to the function last year.

Due to ‘circumstances’ that did not happen - but Jim was first choice to address the society this time.

Jim (73) said: “The Guild put my name forward, but then their president was invited to Scotland to attend a Burns Supper and was so impressed by one of the speakers that club had that night he asked him to come to New York last January instead.

“It was all a bit of a misunderstanding that was quickly sorted out and now I’m looking forward enormously to getting over there. It’s going to be a great honour, the pinnacle of my Burns speaking career by far and I’m absolutely delighted.”

Jim, from Kennard Street, Falkirk, got interested in the works and history of Burns almost by accident.

He said: “Around the middle of the 1980s I was invited by a friend to my first Burns Supper. It had been organised by Lodge Camelon 1456. I went as a guest and ended up being roped into giving the vote of thanks because somebody had not turned up.

“I was ‘bitten by the Burns bug’ from then. I started organising the function for the Lodge, joined the Wheatsheaf Burns Club around ten years ago and I’m currently its vice president and also a member of Falkirk Burns Club.

“I’m particularly proud of being a member of the Guild of Burns Speakers for the last six years. There are only 37 members - one for each year of Burns’ life - and you are only invited to join after being nominated by two members so it is quite an honour.”