President’s Blog January 2015


President’s Blog and Report Annan

Ladies Burns Club Anniversary Dinner 22nd January 2015

On 22nd January 2015 I had the great pleasure of being invited to the Annan Ladies Burns Club Anniversary dinner along with fellow delegate David Smith BEM and principal speaker David Miller. After introductions and a stirring ‘address tae the haggis’ by our own David Miller the company was treated to a traditional and rather tasty haggis dinner accompanied by generous hospitality.

A young lady (Miss Cameron Ewing) set the pace for the evening with some fine (if a little nervous) singing. One to watch I would say! Leona Evans gave us an unusual slant with the address to Husbands and Sweethearts which was partly made up by some delightful singing of well kent Burns favourites and humorous anecdotes. Dora Lewis accompanied Leona on fiddle and gave a solo performance of other Scottish airts.

David Miller was then invited to give the immortal memory which was delivered with skill, humour and a certain panache. He was rewarded with lengthy applause and a fine bottle of whisky at the end of the evening, to compliment another bottle won in the raffle. (Lucky sod!)

After Val Blake entertained us with a song, humorous dialogue was provided by the incorrigible Pat Jardine in her toast tae the toon of Annan with reminisces of her misspent youth and other daft stories! Felt a wee bit sorry for Pat as she had to compete with what sounded like the end of an Annan Athletic Training session and at times it was quite hard to hear what she was saying but all in all she took it in her stride and persevered like a true professional! It was a great night which concluded with more musical merriment. Prior to the entertainment commencing, as a token of our esteem, a miniature of Howff Club anniversary whisky was presented to lady President, Frances Scott, along with a poem on behalf of the club. All in all a very pleasant evening with good friends in the function suite at Galabank!

John Clark


Wreath Laying Service at St Michael’s Church 23/01/2015

A full house at St Michael’s Church enjoyed a service conducted by Rev Maurice Bond. The congregation was swelled by several classes of local primary school children who delighted those present with Burns music poetry and readings. Several Burns clubs were well presented. David Miller addressed the large gathering and a fitting oration from the pulpit was given by Prof. Gerry Carruthers. The chaplain to Glasgow university had the congregation spellbound with a trick involving a balancing act with nails and wood. He complimented the trick with some sound advice to the youngsters on problem solving which I dare-say had the adults thinking outside the box as well! The service concluded and the delegates progressed to the mausoleum where wreaths were laid respectfully to the memory of the bard. Between showers, Arthur Milton conducted the wreath laying ceremony and addressed the crowd. Congratulations must go the organisers of the event especially John Caskie and David Miller on their input and organising the event. Guests were then invited back to St Michael’s Church Hall for refreshments.

Friars Carse Burns Supper 24th January 2015

Following on from the successful Fish Supper held earlier in the year Gordon Johnstone gathered some hardened Howffers to entertain an intimate gathering at Friars Carse Hotel in the very room where Burns himself played out the infamous Whistle drinking competition. About 40 or so guests enjoyed a rather tasty meal and were entertained with an address to the haggis (by myself) piped in by club piper Calum Watson. David Smith BEM gave grace after dinner and was warmly applauded for his recent distinction of being included in this year’s Honours List.

Musical merriment was provided by our own Lee McQueen and songs by myself and Les Byers during the course of the evening.A hugely entertaining immortal memory was given by Les Byers (which may be in line for the Guinness Book of records for the lengthiest address ever without notes) ! Well done Les! Despite a rasping cough, Gordon J, MC’d the evening very ably and had us all chuckling with a sizeable selection of jokes and humorous anecdotes in his toast ‘tae the lassies Oh’. Ruth Thomson responded with finesse and a well thought light humoured reply. To round of the evening Les Byers (dressed in the famous gown and cap)gave a hilarious and enjoyable recitation of Holy Wullie’s prayer which will be remembered as much for the antics and humour as the content. The evening was concluded with some community singing and a rousing Auld Lang Syne. On retiring for the night the guests all made favourable comments about the evening which had been hugely enjoyed by both audience and speakers. Congratulations must go to Gordon Johnston for his organisational skills!

John Clark

(President Burns Howff Club)

residents blog Annan Ladies 2015


President’s Blog Xmas Party

Xmas Night report 2014


A Grand Gathering of Howffers for the 2014 Xmas Party- Globe Inn

On the 15th December the Burns Howff club held its annual Xmas Party at the clubroom in the Globe Inn Dumfries. Sixteen hardy souls, dressed in a varied assortment of Daft Christmas Jumpers, Santa Hats and antlers enjoyed a rather tasty meal, washed down with house wine, finished off with fine port. Best jumper awarded retrospectively to Billy Graham with a cheeky little red number – strangest Santa Hat award went to David Miller who looked frighteningly like Osama Bin Laden. Best Antlers – George Templeton shared with Gordon Johnstone! Best Dressed Elf – Lee McQueen!!

Gifts were distributed from the Secret Santa Sack by Jane Broon (thinly disguised as Mrs Clause) and the company settled down to an evening of songs, poems, stories and general merriment. Excellent accordion music was provided by Lee McQueen, with Ian McIntyre and Godfrey contributing Guitar and vocal performances, which together with further contributions from Jim McCambley, Ken Cruickshanks, Gordon Johnstone and David Miller provided additional substance for an excellent evening’s entertainment. I would like to thank all who contributed and apologise to anybody who I have forgot. A great night in great company. Here’s to 2015!

John Clark


St Andrew’s Night Globe Inn 1st Dec 2014

St Andrews night report 2014

President’s Blog on the St Andrew’s Night held in the Globe Inn on Monday 1st Dec 2014.

A packed house squeezed into the Globe Inn on Monday 1st Dec 2014 to enjoy one of the most memorable St. Andrew’s night Suppers for many a year. After formal introductions and housekeeping it was a great pleasure to present past president Marshall Laing with a certificate conferring on him honorary membership of the Howff Club at the ripe old age of 91. Once Hon President Dan Cook read ‘grace before dinner’ the Company tucked into a rather tasty steak pie supper followed by a superlative cheeseboard. Once the loyal toast was over, the evening’s entertainment kicked off with some fine accordion music by the very talented James Coutts who kept our toes a-tapping throughout the evening. Keeping up the tempo, William Williamson, gave a fine performance of Scottish Airts in rousing ‘Andy Stewart’ fashion. Later in the evening he had the whole company up on its feet with a rousing sing – along of well kent Scottish Ballads. We were even treated to an impromptu Highland Fling – not the easiest of feats in the rather cramped confines of a packed Globe full of thirsty howffers! Thankfully no beer was spilled by his whirling kilt. We were then entertained with the fine singing voice of David Pool from the muckle toon of Langholm. David gave a further two songs later in the programme which added to the enjoyment of a highly entertaining programme.

Much anticipated was the toast ‘tae Auld Scotia’ given by the irrepressible Dave Scott from Duns. David did not disappoint and we were treated to one of the finest toasts ‘tae auld Scotia’ given at the Howff Club for many a year. A roller-coaster of a toast, Dave kept us hugely entertained with comedy, sincerity, poignancy and a wealth of information on the Scottish persona, history and Border Lore. Delivered in the warm dulcet tones of a true borderer his passion for his homeland was evident. He closed to rapturous applause and a standing ovation which kept the company smiling for some minutes. David was visibly moved by the whole experience. After a presentation of a tankard to David for his contribution delegates George Dunwoody and John Wallace from Dumbarton BC were welcomed to the club. President George gave a most eloquent response. Present too were our good friends, delegates (President) Arthur Milton and Peter Kormylo (SVP) from the Dumfries Burns Club who were warmly welcomed. Arthur Milton gave a courteous reply and the night continued on schedule. Further songs followed by W Williamson and D Pool and our own Gordon Johnston gave us a recitation which was warmly received.

It was nice to see John Melrose in his usual perch, looking a little chirpier and thankfully sitting the right way up!! Good to see you back John! After the raffle which raised £233 and the collection for the staff of the Globe Inn Staff which raised aprox £82 James Coutts again had the company enthralled with a fine selection of tunes from his accordion. As the evening drew to a close William Williamson and David Pool along with James Coutts had the whole company singing like linties. A comprehensive vote of thanks was then given by JVP William Johnston

Les Byers, after an earlier centre stage recitation (delivered in wistful highland/Island dialogue) led the evening to a close with Auld Lang Syne. In Les the club has an all round entertainer who can captivate an audience with his considerable repertoire of recitations, songs and laid back repartee. Could he make a bob or two as a Ronnie Barker look a like? The jury’s out on that one? Well done Les!

Judging by the warmth of the company I think the evening was one of the best St Andrews Suppers seen at the Globe for many years. Well done to all the speakers, entertainers – not forgetting the senior ex-committee and all those who helped to make the night such a rip roaring success!!!! In closing I would like to wish all members a very happy Christmas and a Guid New Year. Look forward to seeing you at the Anniversary Supper!

John Clark

Dumbarton Burns Club St Andrew’s Night

St Andrews night report 2014St Andrews Night report 2014

President’s Report Dumbarton St Andrew’s Night 28th Nov 2014

On 24th November a mixed company of 13 travelled to Dumbarton Burns Club to enjoy a terrific meal and entertainment, in the fine surroundings of the Alexandria Masonic Temple a few miles north of Dumbarton. The magnificent interior, reminiscent of a scene from Harry Potter’s ‘Hogwarts Castle’ proved a very fitting setting, with oak panelling, fine murals, stage and minstrel gallery.

We were warmly welcomed by George Dunwoody (an excellent host and MC throughout) and the executive committee of the DBC who showed our party unreserved hospitality. After a terrific, animated ‘toast tae the haggis’  from Gavin Finlay we were entertained by an excellent ensemble of gifted singers and speakers. The entertainment was first class,notably Robert Ryan (vice president) who sang and played guitar on his own, very moving, version of Caledonia as a tribute to those who perished in the Clutha Inn disaster. We were also entertained by Kirsten Easdale a most accomplished folk singer and accompanying accordionist. Excellent readings followed from Bill Kean and Scot Rorison.

The lengthy toast ‘tae Auld Scotia was delivered in scholarly fashion by Professor Gerard Carruthers, an academic of note who covered the Scottish persona down the centuries with mind blowing intellectual precision. The toast ‘tae the lassies’ by Martin Walker although amusing to start with, fell a little flat when he targeted ladies in the audience with a stream of sexist jokes. Unfortunately jokes about dumb blondes were not truly appreciated by the numerous ladies present (especially the two highly intelligent blondes sitting either side of me).

The reply from the lassies by Jenny McIntyre was, conversely, well delivered, short and sweet! John Young then took centre stage and sang a stirring version of ‘Piper of Dumbarton’ to rapturous applause! The evenings entertainment closed with a comprehensive and amusing vote of thanks from DBC Vice president Robert Ryan.

All in all a fabulous night in excellent company. After a goodnight tipple we retired well fed, well looked after and slightly intoxicated. An evening of dreamless sleep was rudely interrupted by the early morning sound of thunderous Glasgow commuter trains. Combined with several hundred tonnes of articulated lorries whizzing by on the dual carriageway and the odd Aeroplane from Glasgow Airport this must surely qualify for the noisiest hotel on the planet but at £28 per room it was a price worth paying. Congratulations to Gordon for securing the hotel and D Smith for organising the taxis with military precision.

I have duplicated a copy of a poetic address recited on the evening. This was presented to President George Dunwoody as a token of the esteem each club holds for the other. A great night out was had by all!!

John Clark

Address tae the Dumbarton Burns Club (Nov 2014)

Dear, President George -a few lines I’ve composed

in respect o’ the cronies, that drink in the Globe

oors seats hard as paint pots, oor plates free o’ design

oor meal washed doon wi’ whisky, in preference tae wine


Like the boys frae Dumbarton, we take it in turns

wi social pursuits and oor passion for Burns

tae reciprocate pleasures, we cut quite a dash

If there’s yin thing in common …. we’re aye up for a laugh


’cause there’s big Gordon Johnston, he’s braw on a bike

Pipe Major Calum’s sublime on the pipes

If ye like lobster cooked on a B.B.Q. fire

ye might want tae converse wi’ the bold McIntyre


Les Byers he’s a singer and reciter supreme

for accordion music, (look nae further) than wee Lee McQueen

Frank Manson will help ye tae tally yer books

Bert Hastings spins stories o’ ghosties and spooks!!!


If ye’re keen on green bowling Ken Crookshank’s – ‘the king’

Davie Smith, well – he’s a Club Legend and master o’ spin

Frae Manhattan, tae Sydney, Moscow tae Dubai

whether kilted or suited wi’ dickie bow tie


It’s nae where ye come frae or what tartan ye wear

religion or money or the length o’ yer hair.

It’s mair aboot freenship and faith that in time

we can a’ staun together for the sake o’ lang syne


Brought together in kinship by poems, sweet, sublime

created by genius perfected by time….

May we aye be contented in wartime or peace

Brithers here in Dumbarton – as we are in Dumfries!



John Clark


President’s Comments November Winter Lecture

John Fergusson Nov 2014 Report

Continuing the successful series of Winter Lectures a near capacity clubroom enjoyed a most enjoyable talk on the Orkney’s through the eyes of former BBC broadcaster John Fergusson. Using colourful imagery, John gave us a most entertaining hour of life in the Orkney Islands during his time there as Radio Presenter with Radio Orkney. Most interesting was his descriptions of Scap Flow during the wear years and the famous world heritage sites, including Scara Brae. His talk was most comprehensive and it was interesting to see the difference in technology in Island Radio Broadcasting over twenty years. He was resident broadcaster in the Islands when the scurrilous accusations of witchcraft desolated a significant proportion of the population. He also had the honour of interviewing Henry Cooper amongst others.

To conclude the talk he recalled some humorous stories whilst working abroad notably in the South Pacific and Brazil where he stumbled into working as an extra on a Hollywood film set in Santa Monica. After answering questions the evening was wound up with a cuppa and some further interchange with the audience. A most interesting insight into Island life. Orkney is a place definitely worth putting on my ‘bucket list’ of must see places!!

John Clark


Halloween Supper 2014

Shown from left to right. Top row – W. Johnstone, D. Cook, C Watson, F. Manson, G. Johnstone, G. Bedford        Bottom Row- Cameron Goodhall, John Clark, Wull Dick

President’s Blog Halloween Supper and report . Globe Inn 30th October 2014

After a Spooky start, despite teething problems with the microphone and initial nerves I think the Halloween Supper was a resounding success. Thanks must go to the organising skills of D Smith, D Miller, J Caskie, Gordon Johnstone and the ex-council for organising the programme, seating and Ma Broon, Chef and staff of the Globe for providing an excellent supper!! We were sorry to hear John Caskie couldn’t make it on the night but thanks must go to Bill Welsh for standing in at such short notice. Bill was in excellent voice and proved a worthy first reserve. Welcome to new members Bill Thomson, Don Moffat, Graham Trickey and Bob Feelie – we hope you will join in with the varied programme throughout the year!

There was a wee scare when one of the members (John Melrose) had a bit of a turn. An ambulance was called and John was given first aid by past President Godfrey Bedford. Although John was taken away by ambulance I’m pleased to report that he is now on the mend. It was reassuring to know help was not too far away on the night – well done Godfrey and others for assisting John when he was clearly in distress! Best wishes to you, John and a speedy recovery!

The guest speakers were excellent with Wullie Dick from New Cummnock giving us a hilarious, at times bawdy comedy sketch and the mighty Cameron Goodhall for providing us with a fascinating account of ancient Halloween customs, prior to rendering us with a faultless recitation of Burns’ poem, ‘Halloween’. Musical genius was provided by Andy Cain and Craig Paton – our toes were fair a- tappin and oor hands were fair a -clappin!! Club member, Bobby Jess gave as another brilliant animated recitation which had us in stitches and the evening was wound up with an eloquent vote of thanks by William Johnstone our Junior Vice.

Thanks to those who contributed to the raffle which raised over £230. The collection for the Globe staff raised aprox £82. Bill Welsh led the evening to a close with Auld Lang Syne – and the company rose as one to finish of the night in style. All in all a great night!! Proceedings finished about 11.15pm.

John Clark