Galashiels Burns Club

The official website of the Galashiels Burns Club

Founded: 1908Federation No: 187

O Scotla! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
(From: The Cotter's Saturday Night)


(All Pictures: Alwyn Johnston)

By Graham Ford – and published in the Border Telegraph, Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

THE popularity of Galashiels Burns Club has never been stronger and the Annual Burns Supper last Friday evening attracted record numbers to the town’s Volunteer Hall.
The lure of Robbie Burns brought visitors from America, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden to rejoice.
The Burns Club committee had worked their socks off to attract speakers of the highest calibre and top-notch entertainers.   There is little doubt that had the 'Bard’ been alive today it would have been his type of evening.   Ordinary people sampling fine cuisine washed down with a few beers celebrating song, speech and poetry.
The rich aroma of the haggis was warmly applauded into the hall, piped in by Bruce Hastie and proudly held aloft by Tom Cass.
As the rich, reeking haggis reached the top table it was addressed in full theatrical style by Grant Lees.   Calling on all his stage experience the Past President delivered the knife into the haggis with gusto and had the assembled company in raptures as he carried out his duties superbly.
The food tasted every bit as good as it looked and the delicacy was devoured by all.
From the moment President and Chairman Alex Merry stood up early in the evening everyone was afforded the very best of order.   Welcoming the group Alex said: “I would like to offer a warm welcome to you all to celebrate the birth of our National Bard.   Thank you to the members of this club for once again showing magnificent support to this annual event, we have 202 members and nine guests here tonight, what a fabulous effort.”
The chairman read out messages of support from various Burns clubs up and down the country before the hall fell silent to mark the passing of four of it’s members.

The President with Guests and Artistes.

(left) Tom Cass the haggis bearer and (right) Grant Lees addressing the haggis

First to offer a toast on the evening was Billy Young from Langholm, he proved to be a fabulous fountain of knowledge when it came to Robbie Burns and mixed the lashings of historical information with a huge helping of good humour.   His Langholm dialect adding to the atmosphere.
He spoke of the young Robbie Burns who would make up cheeky little verses about folk he knew in his home village.   He spoke of Burns possessing that remarkable Scottish quality of accepting or rejecting a man for his worth, rather than for his rank.
He was never slow to put in place those who thought themselves a “Cut above the rest”, those who hobnobbed with their peers and tried to climb the social ladder.
Billy demonstrated an incredible understanding of Burns’ works as he read poems, and lines from songs to explain his views of Burns.   He delved into the plethora of subjects Burns chose to write about from birds in the hedge grows, the wild flowers in the fields and the wounded hare.
And he recounted the moment in 1785 when the blade of his plough upturned the field mouse’s nest to inspire him to write one of his most famous poems.
The standing ovation offered to Billy Young at the end of his delivery was deserved and had the company purring with delight.

(left) Billy Young delivering The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns and (right) Keith Cowan 'Toasting the Lassies'

Between speeches the entertainers were note perfect with their performing of songs, and the members and guests were only too eager to join in the chorus when the opportunity arose.   Singers Stuart Anderson and Alistair Waddell were accompanied by pianist Chris Achenbach.
The historical club founded in 1908 were also offered a first when Past-President David Sanderson delivered 'Tam O’ Shanter’ from a suitcase, the hilarious performance complete with numerous wigs, outfits and props was a treat to behold.   Later he turned his attention to the incredible 'Holy Willie’s Prayer’ and once again had the attention of everyone with his portrayal.
Vice-President Keith Cowan toasted 'The Lassies’.   His speech was full of passion and emotion and he followed in his late father’s footsteps, he demonstrated his love for Galashiels Burns Club and for Robbie Burns.   A passion that had been instilled in him by his father, he was supported on the night by many of his friends from Melrose.
He said: “I have had a lifelong affiliation with this club, it is a club that has grown stronger and stronger over the years and it is something that I am really looking forward to.   I want to make my friends and my father proud.”
He had the company in hysterics with some fabulous humour, he described that when he read the Bard’s poetry he was able to put images into words and paint wonderful pictures into the minds of the readers.   He highlighted that if Burns had been around today he would have been a mega star, but would more than likely have shunned such limelight.
He spoke of his love for Jean Armour, despite her parent's impression that Robbie wasn’t “Good enough” for her.   He added: “Burns played many roles during his lifetime as a poet, father, husband, friend, brother, nationalist, drunkard, cad, compassionate human being, bad boy, celebrity. Whatever term you wish to use, you will always know that he loved Scotland, he loved the common folk and he certainly loved the lassies.”

(left) David Sanderson reciting Tam o' Shanter and (right) Alistair Waddell's fine rendering of 'Scots, Wha Hae'

(left) Stuart Anderson giving a rousing 'Star O' Rabbie Burns' and (right) Piper Bruce Hastie

The Rt. Hon. Michael Moore MP delivering the 'Land O' Cakes - Caledonia'.

By the time The Secretary of State for Scotland took to the floor the evening was well and truly in full swing, friendships had been strengthened, new friendships had been formed and the members and guests were revelling in the occasion.
Local MP Michael Moore spoke of how since he had taken up his role of Scottish Secretary he had been lucky enough to travel thousands of miles around Scotland and had developed a much greater understanding of both the country and it’s people.
He had offered a moving tribute to the service men and women who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for our freedom.   While he enjoyed speaking at events all over the country he loved nothing better to return home to speak amongst his own people in the Scottish Borders.   He highlighted the significant role Robbie Burns played both nationally and internationally.
When Peter Croan offered the vote of thanks to bring the curtain down on an incredible evening, auld acquaintances had been forged and the memory of Scotland greatest poet had been recaptured in all it’s glory.

The Chairman announced the following Greetings received from Burns Societies far and wide:

The Robert Burns World Federation / Aberdeen Burns Club / Burns Federation – Yorkshire District
Burns Howff Club (Dumfries) / Caledonian Society of Sheffield /Coldstream Burns Club
Cupar Burns Club / Kelso Burns Club / Dumfries Ladies Burns Club / Whiteadder Burns Club
Greenock Burns Club / St. Andrews Society of Bradford.