2007/2008 season past
Date: Event:
06 May 2007 Coldstream Bridge
18 May 2007 SSCBA Ann. Dinner
24 May 2007 Bowling Night, Dock Park
26 May 2007 Mauchline Holy Fair
08 July 2007 Wauchope Cairn
25 July 2007 Club Treasure Hunt
09 July 2007 Jean Armour Dinner
18 July 2007 Brow Well Service
18 Aug 2007 Edinburgh Tattoo
16 Sept 2007 Dumbarton Bowling Match
31 Oct 2007 Hallowe’en Supper
29 Nov 2007 St. Andrew’s Night Dinner
25 Jan 2008 119th Anniversary Dinner
"Spring Fling", Crichton
04 April 2008 Games Night
24 April 2008 Annual General Meeting

Winter Lecture Programme

2007 / 2008

October 25th 2007 Mr. George Taylor "Sailors Three"
November 22nd 2007 Mr. Frank Ryan "Journalism"
February 28th 2008 Mr. John Picken "The Romans in Galloway"
March 27th 2008 Mr. George Thomson "Col. De Peyster"
April 17th 2008 Whisky Tasting in the clubroom

All talks take place in the clubroom at 7.30pm. Friends of members are welcome.

Anniversary Dinner

25th January 2008 - Immortal Memory by Alex Fergusson MSP


There is possibly no venue in the world that could replicate the charged atmosphere as president Alistair Johnstone of Dumfries Burns Howff Club welcomed more than 90 members to the 119th anniversary dinner held on Friday evening at the Globe Inn. The president was delighted to welcome Alex Fergusson and Donald McCuaig to the club as its principal speakers and to the entertainers who would provide an extensive programme of songs and recitations. Following these early formalities, in this most special of taverns where Burns was an occasional customer, Howfers were quickly aroused into song when Frank Curran led them with a spirited delivery of "There was a Lad".
Elevated emotions continued when Calum Watson piped in the haggis and the president made a memorable address, displaying a fine articulation of the Scots language. After an excellent traditional meal the club secretary, David Smith indicated that 130 greetings had been received from kindred clubs around the world and these included good wishes from North America, Australia and Hungary as well as from many clubs in the British Isles. This showed the status the club enjoys on the world stage and its prominence was endorsed by the attendance of the Consul General of Ukraine, Bohdan Yaremenko. In a short address to the company he said that Robert Burns and Scotland were very famous in Ukraine and that they were important to Ukrainians. Indeed, Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko had used Burns as his inspiration. He added that in he past 14 years Burns Suppers had taken place in Kiev and this year’s event would be on February 23. It was for him an honour and a privilege to be at the Howff club and he wished that members might in the future attend Burns Suppers in Odessa or Kiev.
Alex Fergusson, MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale was introduced by the club president and invited to propose the Immortal Memory. He started his toast by saying that he was no great expert on Robert Burns and that he had no great insight into his persona, psyche or thought process but that he did have one thing in common with the bard, which was that they both started their lives as farmers in south-west Scotland.
Fergusson believed that Burns did not enjoy farming but he found great ability as a poet while at the plough. This job allowed him to let his mind and imagination wander beyond the misery of his immediate task. An example of this was how he empathised with the mouse in his famous poem, his genius was in comparing his own lot with that of a meagre fieldmouse. However, the main thrust of Fergusson’s Immortal Memory was how Burns was able to paint pictures with words, the only tools at his fingertips. Having been a farmer, he was genuinely moved by the verses Burns had written in the poem Old Maillie, which was about his favourite ewe. But perhaps the strongest images came through his descriptive words in the Cotter’s Saturday Night and this like all great pictures contains clearly defined contrasts. He wondered what Burns would have made of Holyrood as it is today and how he wrote on his first visit to the capital that "here sat legislation’s sovereign powers" what he was referring to in the past is now there again, a seat of legislative power.
However, he was sure that Burns would have been proud at the opening of Holyrood in 1999 when Sheila Wellington sang his wonderful anthem "A man’s a man for a’ that".
Fergusson embraced the company by asking them to consider the words in Auld Lang Syne. By holding hands together, even for the briefest of moments, was the very essence that inspired Burns to write "that man to man the world o’er shall brothers be for a’ that".
President Alistair Johnstone presented honorary membership to Alex Fergusson, a long-time tradition at the Howff club that is conferred upon those who propose the toast to the Immortal Memory.
The evening followed with Frank Curran leading Howfers in various medleys and folk trio Scocha performing several stirring songs. This was punctuated by recitations from Stewart Park who delivered a flawless performance packed with panache and flamboyance of Tam o’ Shanter and with some style and dignity "The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie".
The Lasses, O’ were toasted by Donald McCuaig and he presented an exceptionally funny address, recounting many of his experiences during his time as a schoolteacher.
Past-president David Baird gave a cleverly crafted and witty address to the Howff’s Drouthie Cronies. It was in verse and many people in the company were clearly identified, however, of its verity there was no doubt. "Yer thrapple oiled with whisky neat from Jane Broon’s gantry", or "Wi’ Alistair his gavel bangs, he keeps together cleeks and gangs".
As the evening drew to a close there was some community singing led by Scocha and a solo from immediate past-president Bill Welsh who sang Mary Morrison. Junior vice-president John Caskie thanked the artistes and committee members of the Howff for their involvement in making the evening such a great success and the staff of the Globe for ensuring the company was well served.
As the Howfers stood for Auld Lang Syne and they linked hands the words of Alex Fergusson’s Immortal Memory were still quite clear "that man to man the world o’er shall brothers be for a’ that".

Winter Program

March 27th 2008 Mr. George Thomson "Col. De Peyster"

A good attendance of members and friends gathered in the clubrooms to hear a talk from George Thompson on “Colonel Arent de Peyster”, a friend of the poet and the commander of the Dumfries Volunteers in 1795 when Robert Burns was a member. Mr Thomson’s talk was illustrated with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation featuring images of the Col.’s travels in North America before the Revolutionary War. Col. Arent Schuyler De Peyster was born in New York of Dutch Huguenot Stock and brought up in Holland and England. He joined the army and spent 47 years in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. On the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, as a young officer, he was posted to the Canadian - American border and tasked to persuade the native tribes to take up arms for the Crown. He was successful in this and was promoted several times. His last posting was garrison commander of a fort near the modern city of Detroit. After the campaign he returned to Britian until he retired in 1794. He settled in Dumfries where his wife had been been born and they lived in Irish street until they purchased Mavis Grove. Robert Burns was a regular visitor to the house and described the Col. in this epistle “My honor’d, much respected friend” . The Col. Commanded the Dumfries Volunteers of which the poet was a member and led the squad at Burns’ funeral in 1796.

Following a lively question and answer session, Mr Thomson was thanked by the president Alistair Johnstone and the company enjoyed coffee and biscuits.

February 28th 2008 Mr. John Picken "The Romans in Galloway"

The third winter lecture of the current season was a real highlight in the calendar when Mr John Picken of the Dumfries and Galloway Museum Service, based in Stranraer, enthralled an appreciative group of Howff members and friends on the evidence for the presence of the Romans throughout Galloway.
The presentation, beautifully illustrated with accompanying images including aerial views of well-known local landscapes were interpreted by Mr Picken to reveal the outline of marching camps and forts right across the region as far as Stranraer. Further details in illustrations of archaeological finds throughout the region were shown proving the existence of trading links across the Solway Firth in Roman times.
A very lively discussion followed the presentation with the customary tea, coffee and high quality biscuits.

22nd November 2007 Mr. Frank Ryan "Journalism"

The historic clubroom of the Dumfries Burns Howff Club within the equally historic Globe Inn saw President Alistair Johnstone welcome well-known local journalist Frank Ryan who proceeded to enthral the attendees to the third winter lecture of the present season with stories from his experiences in journalism. Frank painted a vivid picture of his life within the press drawing from his vast experience of wide and varied topics, a life that had touched on tragic stories such as the Lockerbie Disaster but also had a great deal of humour attached to it. As always the evening closed with a lively discussion accompanied by tea, coffee and on this occasion high quality shortbread.

October 25th 2007 Mr. George Taylor "Sailors Three"

The Globe Inn was the venue, as always, for the second winter lecture of the current season when an engaging presentation on three local sailors was presented my Mr George Taylor - Patrick Miller, James Anderson and John Campbell. Although Patrick Miller is well known to the Howff Club as Robert Burns’ Landlord, the other two were perhaps known to some present but I would suggest not to the majority. George delivered a fascinating insight into these three giants of the world of invention navigation and achievement. John Campbell from Kirkbean who in 1740 sailed around the world on the Centurian and is also remembered for his work in the development of the sextant and who was later Governor of Newfoundland. Patrick Miller’s work on steam powered ships well known to us all but also a great innovator in the world of agriculture. James Anderson’s involvement as Captain of the Great Eastern in the laying of the first Atlantic Telegraph Cables and indeed the retrieval of a lost cable, a momentous feat. George managed to bring the three sailors to life with a lively and informative talk and the evening ended with further discussion and debate.

September 27th 2007 Mr. James Haining "An African Journey"

New season's programme of talks in the Globe Inn opened on 27th September when past president Jim Haining gave an illustrated narrative on his recent working holiday in South Africa. Jim's lively description of the striking contrasts between the "haves and have nots" in African society was complimented by superp photographs of people, places and wildlife overlaid with a droll commentary that veered between wit and pathos. Jim was thanked by senior vice president David Miller.
Next lecture is on Thursday 25th October at 7.30pm,when George Taylor will talk on "Sailors Three".

AGM Meeting in the Howff

The club AGM took place in the Howff club rooms on the 26th April 2007 when Alistair Johnstone was installed as President for the coming year, David Miller elected Senior vice president and John Caskie was elected as Junior vice president.
for Full Report click here

Less Recent Events

29/11/07 - St. Andrew’s Night Dinner
St. Andrew’s Day was celebrated by the Burns Howff Club with a dinner in the Globe Inn on 29th November.
The large gathering of members was welcomed by president Alistair Johnstone who introduced the guest speaker, Mr. Bill Dawson from Alloa, currently senior vice president of the Robert Burns World Federation.

After dinner, Mr. Dawson proposed the toast to 'Auld Scotia' and took the company on a rich tour of Scotland’s history and traditions from the trauma of Culloden in 1746 to the revival of the Scottish identity led by Sir Walter Scott in the early 19th century with the visit of George IV and the appearance of Highland Dress which was largely invented for the occasion. The speaker said the Scots had an intense pride in nationhood and Scots culture highlighting the international appeal of Sir Harry Lauder in the 1920’s and the resurgence of literary genius by Hugh McDiarmid and others in the 1950’s. The film 'Braveheart' in 1996, although historically dubious, awakened the conscience of many Scots and led to a vast increase of visitors. This country with a population of 5million can boast 20million worldwide that claim a Scots connection and Scotland is now an international brand.

Mr. Dawson declared that it is not anti English to be a patriotic Scot and paid tribute to our neighbours to the south although his theme was spoiled somewhat with his reference to a medieval law which held that it was legal to murder a Scotsman in the centre of York, if he was carrying a bow and arrow.

Contributing to a superb entertainment programme were Frank Curran, Les Byers and Bill Welsh, with songs old and new. Gordon Johnston and David Baird performed the duo, 'Winter, a Dirge', to great acclaim and Honorary Member Peter Kormylo gave an introduction to Burns’ 'Scots, Wha Hae', the story of the Battle of Bannockburn, followed by a stirring recitation of the poem. Honorary Member Max Houliston accompanied the singers, and again demonstrated his prowess as the best accordion player in the south of Scotland. Special guest artist, Lionel McLelland delighted the company with musical selections on the guitar and tin whistle and later, a hilarious version of Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet', in which the original four hours was reduced to three minutes and sang in broad Glaswegian to the tune 'The Mason’s Apron'.
A raucous period of community singing concluded a memorable evening before a comprehensive Vote of Thanks from junior vice president John Caskie.

31/10/07 - Hallowe’en Supper
Members and friends of the Burns Howff Club gathered in the Globe Inn on 31st October to celebrate Hallowe’en in traditional manner. The company was welcomed by president Alistair Johnstone who introduced guest speaker, Michael Duguid from Tywnholm and president of Gatehouse of Fleet Burns Club. After dinner, Mr. Duguid who was recently elected junior vice president of the Robert Burns World Federation at the annual conference held in Canada, gave a light hearted talk on the old customs of a Scottish Hallowe’en as described in Burns’ famous poem of the same name. The speaker was thanked by the president and accepted a set of Burns etchings as a memento. Spectacular entertainment was supplied by members and guest artistes, including Bobby Jess who recited a vigorous version of 'Tam o’ Shanter' to great acclaim. Honorary member John Glover delighted the company with his talent for comic monologues including a hilarious take-off on Max Boyce’s Welsh Rugby supporter. Songs were provided by Frank Curran, Les Byers and Honorary Member Alex Pool from Langholm who also recited the stirring Borders poem, 'The Raiders'. Junior vice president John Caskie proposed a comprehensive vote of thanks at the conclusion of a night to remember. The accompanist was Lee McQueen.

09/07/07 - Jean Armour Dinner


The club attended the annual ceremony to lay a wreath in honour of Jean Armour and the woman Burns life. President Alistair Johnstone gave a speech to the assemble crowd from fellow Burns clubs and societies followed by a meal and excellent entertainment in the Howff, The Globe Inn.

06/05/07 - Coldstream Ceromony
A delegation from the club attended the annual ceremony at Coldstream Bridge on 6th May, to commemorate Burns’ visit in 1787 when he crossed the bridge over the River Tweed and stood on English soil for the first time. Senior Vice David Miller, Hon. Treasurer David Baird, Hon. Librarian Gordon Johnston, Hon. Secretary David Smith and hon. member Jane Brown represented the Howff club. The company continued to the bridge where Coldstream Burns Club president Robert Smith gave an address and placed a wreath at the commemorative plaque. Deputising for president Alistair Johnstone, senior vice president David Miller placed a wreath on behalf of the club. Following the ceremony, the party was piped to the Craw Green on the north bank of the river where the formalities continued with an appreciation of Burns’ visit, by Coldstream secretary John Elliot. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the company returned to the British Legion Club for a buffet and refreshments. During the social hour, which followed, Gordon Johnston contributed to the entertainment and Jane Brown proposed a toast to Coldstream Burns Club.

19/04/07 - Peter Kormylo - - Tam 'o' Shanter to interactive DVD
The season’s Winter Lecture Programme ended on a high note when honorary member Peter Kormylo entertained a good turn out of members and friends with an interactive DVD on Burns’ "Tam O’ Shanter". The DVD was originally produced for use in schools but is an excellent tool for anyone wishing to learn the story and background to the poem. Peter tested the knowledge of members with a quiz on "Tam" and was thanked by senior vice president Alistair Johnstone, standing in for president Bill Welsh.

06/04/07 - Club Games Nights in association with Marchmount Bowling Club
Dispite the Easter holiday some club members entered into competition against members of the bowling club with carpet and table bowls, domino and snooker, billiards all being competed for in a night of fun together with some serious competition, followed by the usual scotch pie & peas.