21 July 2010
It was very fitting that my first official duty after my cycle accident was the annual Brow Well Service organised by the Scottish Southern Counties Burns Association to commemorate the death of our National Bard. Whereas I was able to benefit from the best of medical treatment at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, poor Burns was given the worst possible advice on how to treat his chronic heart condition - rheumatic endocarditis. During a two-week period, faithfully following the instructions of his doctor and friend Dr Maxwell, he submerged himself up to his oxters daily in the rising tide of the Solway Firth. Perhaps not surprisingly, he died shortly thereafter on 21 July 1796. I was privileged to be invited to propose a commemoration to Burns at this prestigious service.